It’s the month when we are to reminded to love our heart. And show love to the ones we care about. These two go together because every 40 seconds, someone dies from heart disease or a stroke.
The word “heart” is complex–it can mean our physical heart and our emotional heart. Food and our relationship with it, is linked to both types of “heart”.Find #heartmonth tips here: http://bit.ly/2oalq0l @American_Heart @EatRightPro @Ca_Avocados Click To Tweet
Feeding a healthy heart.
A heart-healthy diet looks something like this:
- Lots of vegetables and fruits. The more color the better.
- Plenty of whole grains–at least 3 servings a day
- A variety of lean protein–some or all from vegetables and fish or seafood twice a week
- Healthy amounts of potassium (found in fruits, veggies and dairy) and magnesium (found in nuts, cocoa and whole grains) and limited amounts of sodium
- Moderate amounts of heart-healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds
- Very limited amounts of processed and fast foods
Champagne for your Heartthrob? Maybe
Alcohol presents a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to heart health. Moderate drinking (about a drink a day) is associated with an immediate higher cardiovascular risk. But within 24 hours, moderate alcohol intake improves blood flow, blood vessels’ lining function and reduces clotting and is protective against a heart attack or stroke. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is never good for the heart. (Heavy drinking is defined as 16 drinks per week for men and 8 drinks per week for women.) Read more from the American Heart Association here.
Maintaining a Healthy Heart
A healthy diet might come easy for you but what about the other things that make a healthy heart? Like exercise, stress and happiness?
- How much is enough? The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of the two). That may sound like a lot, but it’s not. Thirty minutes, five times a week or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 times a week.
Find Happiness and Stress Less
It’s easy to say, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Find gratitude every day. Say no to things you don’t have time for. Take a few minutes every day to do something you enjoy, even if it’s just reading for 5 minutes. Surround yourself with supportive, happy people as much as you can. Exercise– stretching, deep breathing and yoga are especially good for stress.
Share the Love
Smiling and giving a hug isn’t just good for the receiver. It’s good for you too.
How Do We Show Love? Especially in February?
With chocolate of course!
Hmmm, can those two concepts coexist?
If you are indulging in chocolate in excess, that is not good for your heart. Yes–you can have too much dark chocolate, even if it does have some great health benefits!
Chocolate (the darker the better) and cocoa (undutched is better) have antioxidants that have proven heart-healthy benefits. The key is moderation. The problem with too much chocolate is calories and saturated fat. If you read the label of many brands of chocolate, you’re going to find lots of different types of sugars, and even some additives and preservatives.
That’s right, you do need to read the label of your favorite chocolate indulgence!
Look for a “clean” label, one that has ingredients you can pronounce! In general, European and European-style chocolate have cleaner labels: Scharffen Berger, Green & Black’s, Milka, Ghiaradelli and Dove. Buying Ethically Sourced, Fair Trade and Organic are definitely plusses.
Read my other posts on chocolate!
Choose Healthier Fast Food!
Need grab-n-go with a side of healthy? Grab our fast food guide to help you navigate the drive-thru!