Take it to Heart

Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day or reason to celebrate your heart: February is American Heart Month! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for both men and women. But the good news is that many risk factors for heart disease can be reduced by adopting healthy lifestyle choices – and among the most impactful is choosing healthy foods. Here are some smart tips for a healthy diet:

  1. Eat fewer highly processed foods. Processed food is usually packaged in boxes, cans, or bags. Choose whole foods instead, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, dairy, and whole grains.
  2. Eat more omega-3s. Omega-3s can help manage blood pressure, reduce the rates of hypertension, and improve mood. Boost your levels by getting at least two servings of fish a week, or adding walnuts and flax seeds to your diet.
  3. Pile on the veggies. In addition to providing vital nutrients, including vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and magnesium, vegetables are low in calories and can reduce the risk of diabetes and respiratory disease.
  4. Increase fiber intake. Getting more fiber can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and many cancers. To get the recommended daily dose of 21 to 38 grams, increase your intake of whole grains.
  5. Eat less meat. Eat more vegetarian meals, using beans, tofu, or even eggs to replace meat or poultry. By decreasing meat, you’ll naturally eat less saturated fat –increasing heart health and lowering risk of some cancers.
  6. Swap one beverage a day for water. Calories from sugary beverages can lead to obesity and harm heart health. If you’re not a fan of plain water, jazz up your H2O with lemon or cucumber slices to add flavor without added sugar.

Want even more heart-healthy tips? Visit millionhearts.hhs.gov for helpful tools and resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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