It's Blood Pressure Awareness Month -- are you ready to pack in all the heart-tastic celebrating that you possibly can? We thought we'd begin with a list of 6 easy tips to help promote heart health...
- Reduce Sodium Consumption. Cutting down on sodium is important to heart health and can have a positive impact on blood pressure. To reduce sodium consumption, avoid canned, frozen, and packaged foods, which often hide huge amounts of salt inside.
- Eat More Fruits and Vegetables. According to Dr. James J. Kenney, "The sad truth is that a healthier diet and lifestyle could eliminate over 90% of the deaths and disabilities now being caused by cardiovascular disease." Stock up on fruits and vegetables in order to get all the nutrients that your heart needs in order to do its job.
- Get Rid of Saturated Fat! Saturated fat increases the LDL (aka "bad") cholesterol in your blood. LDL cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and all kinds of health complications. Limit saturated fat consumption to 10% or less of your calorie intake. That’s about 16 grams (or less!) per day.
- Kick Trans Fats to the Curb. You can find trans fats in processed foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fat has been shown to increase bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol, which spells trouble for your heart. Keep it to less than 1% of the calories you consume each day.
- Get Active! Regular physical activity promotes good health, so talk with your doctor about putting together a healthful exercise plan. Remember to start slowly with things like taking walks and stretching. Pushing too hard at first can lead to injury, burnout, and even health complications. Be smart -- for your heart!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.