When you hear the word “heart” what comes to mind? If you’re like me, you get transported back to 1985 and the song “What About Love?” by the band Heart. But, in all seriousness, February is American Heart Month. It’s a reminder to myself and my fellow women that we must take care of our hearts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States resulting in about one in every four female deaths. The good news is lifestyle is the best defense against heart disease. Studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day. Thus, we have the opportunity to understand the risks associated with heart disease and reduce them through preventive actions.
Here are three healthy choices that may decrease your risk for heart disease:
1. Choose good nutrition. Increase your intake of superfoods like greens, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Include whole grains, fresh heart healthy fish like Verlasso Salmon and Open Blue Cobia (both found in Heinen’s Seafood Department), poultry and lean cuts of meat.
2. Aim for a healthy weight and be active every day. Obesity is highly prevalent and places us at risk for high blood pressure and insulin resistance, which are the very things that heighten our risk of cardiovascular disease. Exercise can help balance insulin resistance, and be sure to talk with your health care provider about a weight that is optimal for you.
3. Manage stress. We can’t get rid of stress entirely, but how you respond to stress could either destroy health or build health. Chronic stress exposes our body to persistent elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol contributes to an expanding waist line and adrenaline causes your blood pressure to rise. Stress can zap your energy and cause irregular sleep patterns making you feel cranky, forgetful and out of control.
What helps manage stress?
- Exercise – Take a walk every day.
- Express Gratitude – Reflecting and being thankful for all the wonderful things in your life can reduce stress.
- Take A Break – Even a 20-minute break from a stressor can give you a new perspective, or time to practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed.
- Smile – Our brains are connected with our emotions so smiles and laughter can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.
Stop at your Heinen’s and visit your Wellness Consultant for heart-healthy diet and supplement tips. Your heart is with you every second and every day of your lives. Challenge yourself to take care of your heart today and every day from now on.