Hearts and February are always associated together because of Valentine’s Day – but did you know February is also American Heart Month? The key word of the month is prevention. Heart disease affects 1 in 4 Americans, so making a few minor changes now can have a big effect in the future. Here are a few things you can start doing now:
- Find 15-30 minutes a day to exercise. Devise a simple routine that fits into your schedule. Maybe the first thing you should do when you get home after work is take a walk around your neighborhood, or try getting a few minutes of fresh air on your lunch break.
- You don’t have to stop using salt entirely – just make a few smart substitutions. Beat1/8 teaspoon herb instead of salt into 2 eggs before scrambling, or try adding oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper to no salt-added tomato sauce for a tasty, low-sodium pasta dinner.
- Same with fats – you don’t need to cut them all out of your diet. Healthy fats from plant-based sources - including avocado, nuts, olives, and olive oil - lower bad cholesterol when consumed in moderation.
- Swap red meat for fish – salmon and tuna consumption has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.
- Make sleep a priority– turn off electronics an hour before bed and try to stick to a sleep schedule as much as possible.
- Finally, stress reduction is vital. One thing to try? Finding something that makes you laugh every day. Laughter has been proven to lower levels of stress hormones, and is arguably the most enjoyable medicine.
The best part of prevention is that you don’t need to totally change anything. Start making a few small steps in the right direction now for a huge payoff later.