February is Heart Health month. Here are 5 super-simple steps for boosting heart health.
1. Manage your weight
Too much body fat increases your risk for heart-disease risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Choose “low energy-dense” foods, such as watermelon, that fill you up on fewer calories.
2. Cut way back on sodium
Aim for no more than 1,500 mg/day. Look for lower-sodium varieties of your favorite foods, snack on watermelon instead of chips, and use fresh herbs instead of the salt shaker.
3. Boost nutrients!
At least 75% of the plate should be real, unprocessed foods, such as colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood, and nuts. The antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber in these foods reduce heart disease risk and help you lose weight.
4. Veg & fruit it up
Aim for at least 9 servings a day of colorful fruits and vegetables. For example, a bowlful of watermelon supplies your entire day’s need for lycopene, an antioxidant known to lower heart disease risk.
5. Get moving
Balance a healthy diet with daily activity. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; opt for a bike ride instead of heading to the Sunday matinee.