February is American Heart Month, and a perfect time to focus on your heart as you celebrate Valentine’s Day. What better way than to take time to make sure what you place in your shopping cart is heart-healthy.
The good news is that the vast majority of heart diseases can be prevented with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Foods that are proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seafood and whole grains. Foods that have been shown to increase the risk include diets rich in added sugars, excess sodium, saturated fats and too many calories.
Keep reading for 5 tips to help improve your heart health.
1. Step on the scale. Set a goal to lose 5-7 percent of your current body weight over the next few months. The three rules of heart health are Weight, Weight, Weight! Losing weight will lower blood pressure and improve your lipid profile (a group of blood tests used to determine your heart attack or stroke risk).
2. Get an oil change. The best way to reduce your arteries’ archenemy, saturated fat, is to use soft spreads and liquid vegetable oils in place of butter, shortening or stick margarine.
3. Eat fish twice weekly. Fatty fish are richest in Omega-3 fatty acids and are recommended by the American Heart Association. Strive to have tuna, salmon or other oily fish at least twice each week.
4. Shake your salt habit. Use more herbs and spice blends instead of salt for seasoning foods.
5. Eat more whole grains. When reading food labels, if the first ingredient is not whole wheat, whole rye, whole oats or brown rice, forget it and make a healthier choice.