February is American Heart Month, the perfect time to learn more about how you can take care of your heart. A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. Make these tips below part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart:
- Quit smoking: Smoking or tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Find a support system and commit to it. You can also talk to your doctor about medications that could help you quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage them to quit.
- Eat a healthy diet: Choose foods that are nutrient-rich and eat a diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and limits fat, salt, added sugar and red meat. Be sure to include low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes and healthy fats like oils and nuts.
- Move more: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity each week, along with two or more days a week of total body strength exercises.
- Manage stress: Look for healthy ways to manage your stress, like meditation, reading or physical activity.
- Get enough sleep: Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night for optimal well-being. Set a sleep schedule and try to stick to it, and limit use of technology before going to bed.
- Maintain healthy biometrics: Get regular health screenings with your doctor to make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol remain at healthy levels. Talk with your doctor about what a healthy blood pressure reading is for you and what you can do to achieve it. In addition, your doctor can help you keep your LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels low and your HDL (or “good”) cholesterol levels higher.