American Heart Month: Heart-Healthy Foods and Exercise

American Heart Month

 

February is American Heart Month, so this is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate what you’ve been doing for your heart lately. Are you staying active? Are you consuming well-balanced, healthy meals? Though nobody is perfect, it’s important to pay attention to your diet and your exercise routine. Below are a few tips on exercise and heart-healthy foods that you can start using today.

Heart-healthy foods

Salmon

Salmon contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and atherosclerosis (hardening and plaque buildup in the arteries), and can decrease triglycerides (high triglyceride levels can increase risk of heart disease). The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fatty fish at least twice a week to reap these benefits.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal has high levels of soluble fiber, which can help to lower cholesterol by acting as a sponge in the digestive tract that soaks up the cholesterol, preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Try old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, as they don’t contain the added sugars found in most instant oatmeal.

Berries

Consuming berries, such as blueberries and strawberries, at least three times a week can help lower your risk for heart attack, a recent study has revealed. In addition, flavonoids found in these berries can decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels for better circulation.

Heart-healthy exercise

As with any other muscle, your heart becomes stronger and healthier with regular exercise. If you haven’t been exercising, it’s never too late to start. People who don’t participate in physical activity are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are active. Regular exercise can help you:

  • Burn calories
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
  • Boost your HDL (“good” cholesterol)
  • Improve your mood and lower your stress level

You don’t have be a marathon runner to exercise. The most important part is simply to get your body moving and burning calories. To improve overall cardiovascular health, the AHA recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Thirty minutes per day for five days each week is an easy goal to achieve. Aerobic exercises that will benefit your heart include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Biking

The simplest and most positive change you can make is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great for your heart.
To schedule an appointment with the physicians at Pomona Valley Health Centers, call (888) 686-0773 today.