February is American Heart Month!
Did you know that Americans eat an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day? This is about 3 times the recommended maximum amount! A new research study found that eating too much sugar raises your risk of heart disease. The study found that Americans who ate a lot of excess sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who limited sugar.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Thankfully, heart disease is related to our lifestyle choices, meaning that we can do things to protect ourselves from getting it. You can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease by making simple changes that help you eat smart, move more and slim down.
Eat Smart to Prevent Heart Disease
Limit added sugars.
- Common sources of added sugars are sugary drinks like soda/pop, fruit drinks, sweet tea, energy drinks, and sports drinks; and sweets such as cakes, cookies, and dessert candy.
- Some foods also have hidden sources of sugars such as tomato sauce and breads. Be sure to read the ingredient list to look for added sugar.
- Prepare more meals at home. This way, you can control the amount of salt in your food.
- Choose no sodium or reduced-sodium foods. If you can’t buy reduced-sodium canned goods, be sure to rinse them.
Eat more fiber.
- Eat more whole grains such as whole grain breads, cereals, oatmeal, pasta, brown rice, and quinoa, instead of refined grains. Try to make at least half of your grains whole grains.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim to get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Limit cholesterol and saturated fat.
- Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, pork, and lean ground beef (at least 90% lean). Remove the skin from poultry to cut down on saturated fat.
- Choose more plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, soy, nuts, and seeds.
- Choose low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) dairy products, like milk or yogurt.
Move More to Prevent Heart Disease
To reduce your risk for heart disease, aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This is about 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Add some cardiovascular exercises, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and hiking, to your daily routine.
- Strength training is an important part of being active, too.
Slim Down to Prevent Heart Disease
Getting to a healthy weight helps to reduce your risk of heart disease. Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
What steps have you taken to keep your heart healthy?