Apart from the heart-shaped cards, cookies, and candy, February also happens to be American Heart Month. This means that while we are busy eating chocolates and making Valentine’s cards, there might just be a different kind of heart we should spend some time considering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women. Some 600,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, and while these numbers are staggering we can take the steps necessary for better heart health.
As we consider heart health, we must consider cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association website explains that while our bodies do need some cholesterol, too much is bad for heart health. There are two types of cholesterol: “good” cholesterol or HDL carries cholesterol to the liver and away from the arteries, while “bad” cholesterol or LDL can clog arteries and lead to heart attacks and strokes. As a basic guideline, the American Heart Association suggests keeping good cholesterol above 60 mg/dL and bad cholesterol below 100 mg/dL. Overall, checking and managing cholesterol levels is a key step in keeping your heart healthy.
Fitness is another key to a healthy heart, and The American Heart Association has provided an excellent list of five heart healthy fitness tips. The first of these tips is to start with activities you love. This means that “exercise” is not limited to the traditional activities like running, lifting weights or bicycling but it could also include something as simple as cleaning the house or walking the dog. The next tip is to embrace the power of ten and try doing a few ten minute bouts of exercise rather than being overwhelmed by one long stretch of activity. The next tip reminds us that strength training also improves the heart health; it’s not all about the cardio. Using exercise to lessen daily stress is the next tip offered. We must not forget that stress is also a factor when considering your heart health, and the endorphins released during exercise are a great way to combat it. The final tip is to compliment good fitness with a good diet, which leads us to our next key to a healthy heart. (The complete list can be found here: http://www.goredforwomen.org/live-healthy/heart-healthy-exercises/top-fitness-tips-for-getting-hearthealthy/ )
Heart health through eating habits
A healthy diet is key in the fight against high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The American Heart Association provides a list of dietary suggestions that can make a difference in heart health. They suggest 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies each day, 3.5 oz of fish each week, 3 oz of fiber-rich whole grain each day, and 4 servings of nuts, legumes and seeds each week. The American Heart Association also suggests that we consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, no more than 450 calories worth of sugar-sweetened beverages a week, and no more than two servings of processed meat each week.
Products offered by eFoodsDirect can also aid in maintaining heart healthy eating habits. As part of the Nutraversal Seal of promise, you can look for the designated icon and feel assured that the product you choose to purchase is cholesterol free and follows the balanced-sodium approach.