|Take Care of Your Ticker
(ARA) - There is more to February than romance and candy hearts. It’s also the perfect time to jump-start your heart health during American Heart Month.
Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States. While heart-related illnesses are widespread, the good news is your lifestyle choices can have a significantly positive effect on your overall heart health.
"In celebration of American Heart Month, you can easily improve overall heart health with a few, simple lifestyle choices," says dietician Keri Glassman. "One in four Americans does not get enough exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With obesity on the rise, especially among children, routine daily exercise is a great place to start. When combined with a healthier diet, particularly one with reduced sodium, you’ll lower the risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension."
True, there are factors that you don’t have control over when it comes to heart health, including age, race, gender and family history. However, by monitoring controllable risk factors such as weight, diet and exercise, you can proactively take the necessary steps to limit the threats and improve your overall well-being.
Here are five easy tips to get your ticker in tip-top shape:
Heart smart staples
Stock up on whole grains, lean proteins rich in omega-3s, and a colorful array of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are not only low in fat and calories, they are also a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Also, omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, walnuts, soybeans, brussel sprouts and flax seeds, can help lower blood fats called triglycerides, which are harmful to your heart. A diet high in soluble fiber and low in saturated fats along with increased fruits and vegetables may help decrease cholesterol and blood pressure.
Shake the salt habit
Sodium is one of the biggest contributors to heart disease and hypertension; and, as a general rule, you should not exceed 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Buyer beware: high amounts of sodium lurk in many of the everyday foods you love, including soups, breads and even beverages. Help stay within your daily sodium recommendation and opt for the low salt or reduced sodium options of your favorite foods, when available.
Many choices, such as Del Monte’s 50 percent Less Salt Vegetables, are a convenient way to reduce salt while maintaining delicious flavor. Look for heart smart options in the grocery store. Products such as Del Monte’s 50 percent Less Salt Whole Kernel Corn and Sweet Peas display the American Heart Association heart-check mark on the label as they meet the Association’s food criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol for healthy people older than age 2.
Other low-sodium options readily available at the supermarket include Pepperidge Farms reduced-sodium breads, lower sodium soups from Campbell’s and Progresso, and Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop popcorn. For great ways on switching out those high sodium foods with lower salt versions, visit http://delmonte.com/solutions/recipeTools.aspx for delicious recipes.
Your heart will gleam with lycopene
Tomatoes contain lycopene, a leading ingredient in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies indicate that canned tomato products may be even better than their fresh counterparts, so go ahead and use that can of spaghetti sauce. In fact, research finds that lycopene in tomatoes can be absorbed more efficiently by the body once processed into juice, sauce, paste and ketchup.
Statistics show that 1.3 million people will have a new or recurrent heart attack in 2009 according to the American Heart Association, and one major contributor is a lack of daily exercise. Tired of your old routine or going to the gym? Sign up for a fun salsa, ballroom or meringue dance class at a local community center. You’ll get your blood moving, heart pumping and have fun with friends and others while you’re doing it.
Snuff out the smoke
Quitting smoking is an important and necessary life change to dramatically lowering your risk of a heart attack. Smokers have more than twice the risk of suffering a heart attack as non-smokers and are more likely to die from a heart-related illness.
For more heart-healthy tips visit http://delmonte.com/solutions or the American Heart Association at www.heartcheckmark.org.
Courtesy of ARAcontent