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American Heart Month: Tips for Keeping a Healthy Heart

American Heart Month: Tips for Keeping a Healthy Heart

In honor of American Heart Month, Families Together of Orange County is highlighting five tips developed by our team of doctors to promote heart health throughout the month of February. Below you will find five easy ways you and your family can keep your hearts healthy year round.

1. Eat healthy

What you eat matters and studies show that consuming fiber-rich food as well as cutting down on sodium and saturated fats can improve the heart’s function.

Adding fiber to your diet can help promote your heart health by reducing cholesterol and promoting a healthy weight. Fiber rich foods include:

  • Fresh vegetables such as broccoli or brussels sprouts 
  • Lentils, and other beans are an easy way to sneak fiber into your meals
  • Fruit like apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and peaches are both delicious and great sources of fiber

Additionally, choosing low-sodium foods will contribute to a lower blood pressure. Some tips on how to find low-sodium foods:

  • Choosing fresh foods over canned options may help to minimize your consumption of salt
  • Look for foods labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added”

According to the American Heart Association, eating too much saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, which can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are found in animal-based foods like beef, pork, poultry, full-fat dairy products and eggs and tropical oils like coconut, and palm. To reduce saturated fats from your diet:

  • Replace saturated fats with lean fats like: seafood, nuts, seeds, and avocados
  • Swap out your corn oil for healthier options like: olive or sunflower oil

2. Stay active

Studies show that physical activity is one of the best things you can do to help prevent heart disease. Consistent exercise keeps arteries and other blood vessels flexible, ensuring good blood flow and normal blood pressure. 

Aerobic exercise examples:

  • Brisk walk
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Jumping rope

Resistance training examples:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Chin-ups

Flexibility and balance training examples:

  • Wall push-ups 
  • Chair squats
  • Alternating standing on one foot

For more exercise routine ideas, visit our blog to find workouts developed by our weight resistance trainer. 

3. Control your cholesterol and blood pressure

High cholesterol and high blood pressure puts individuals at higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks. While medications can help control both blood pressure and cholesterol, various lifestyle changes such as daily exercise and a healthy diet as listed above will greatly contribute to lowering high cholesterol or high blood pressure

Individuals who smoke will see a radical difference in their heart health almost immediately if they quit. Medical experts report that within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike. Additionally, within three months of quitting your blood circulation and lung function can begin to improve.

4. Drink alcohol in moderation

Medical experts recommend drinking alcohol in moderation in order to reduce risk of high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes. While red wine is thought to help the heart, drinking alcohol in excess is detrimental to the heart.

The recommended portion: The American Heart Association recommends no more than one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One drink is 4 ounces of wine.

5. Manage stress in ways that work for you

Stress can wreak havoc on our health and may contribute to poor health behaviors linked to increased risk for heart disease. By managing your stress, you are doing your heart and your mind a good service.

Examples of activities that help manage stress:

  • Listening to music can help you relax: Soothing music can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels
  • Spending time outdoors: Combining exercise with time outdoors is a great stress reliever, not to mention the sounds of nature sounds like the chirping of birds can be enjoyed while outside

Families Together of Orange County is here to provide the tools our community needs to help you reach your health goals. Our community health centers in Tustin and Garden Grove offer an array of services to help patients along on their journey to healthier hearts. Services include nutrition classes with our in-house team of nutritionists, exercise sessions with our weight resistance trainer, and mental health services focused on the individual needs of every patient. 

To learn more about our services please visit our services page here or to take advantage of any of our services please call 1(800) 597-7977 for more information.

Sources:

AHA: Healthy eating

Healthline

AHA: Information on alcohol consumption