This article is written by Melissa Freed of The Wholistic Approach in Marshfield, MA.
With Valentine’s Day on the 14th, February seems like the perfect month to focus on heart health. As many of you already know, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), 2200 Americans die from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) each day. That’s 1 person every 39 seconds. Although the statistics are grim, you can take action and help decrease your chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
The AHA recommends avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy weight, eating well, keeping blood pressure and glucose levels normal, to protect against CVD. The good news? You have control over what you eat and your level of physical activity. By adding more nutrient rich fruits and vegetables like carrots, broccoli and squash, limiting foods with added sugars, salt, and saturated fat, and committing to weekly exercise, you can begin to decrease your odds of developing heart related illnesses.
When working with clients, I recommend starting with easy to implement dietary changes including:
- Eat vegetables at every meal. If possible include green leafy vegetables daily.
- Aim to control saturated fat (no more than 10% of daily calories) by weighing meats and reading food labels.
- Avoid added sugar and sodium by limiting the amount of processed foods in your diet
- Be aware of calorie intake by keeping a daily food and beverage journal.
- Stay Active. Physical activity can be a more difficult commitment to make where limited time is often a factor. Still, benefits have been seen with as little as 15-20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a few times a week. Therefore, do your best to include fitness into your busy schedule. Exercise has the proven ability to improve mental health along with physical, so get up and move even if it’s only a few times a week.
This February, show yourself some love by taking steps to protect you and your heart from cardiovascular disease. With proper diet and exercise you can make great strides in the battle to prevent or help fight cardiovascular disease. You will feel great for taking control of your heart health.
(*Be sure to consult a health care professional before beginning any new diet or exercise program.)
Your turn: How are you good to your heart on a daily basis?
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About the Author
Melissa Freed is a fitness and nutrition consultant and founder of The Wholistic Approach. She offers integrative health plans and wellness services to clients throughout the South Shore. Melissa is passionate about helping individuals and families reach their goals of a happy and healthier lifestyle. You can also find Melissa sharing health and fitness information on The Wholistic Approach Facebook page.