Get Heart Healthy

February is Heart Health Month

Written by Taylor Bartosiewicz, IUPUI Dietetic Intern

Did you know your heart beats about 115,200 times each day? Your heart works hard for you, so it’s important to take care of your heart. February is a great time to learn more about eating smart for your heart!

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. While you can’t change some risk factors like age and family history, the good news is that as much as 80% of the risk can be prevented with diet and lifestyle behaviors. Here are some tips on foods that help keep you and your heart healthy and happy:
  • Eat Omega 3 rich foods such as nuts, nut butter, seeds, and olive oil. More great sources include both fresh and canned fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines. Omega 3-fatty acids can help increase HDL, the good cholesterol.
  • Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, fiber and other nutrients. Fresh, canned, and frozen are all good options.
  • Whole grains, like whole wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal contain B vitamins and fiber, which can improve cholesterol levels.
  • Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg/day. Use herbs and seasonings to flavor recipes and read the label to choose foods that are lower in sodium.
  • Potassium is found in beans, potatoes, leafy greens, and yogurt. It helps control blood pressure.
  • Limit saturated fat and trans-fat because these raise LDL “bad” cholesterol. Choose lean protein like chicken, turkey, lean pork loin, eggs, and beans and low-fat dairy like yogurt, cheese, and milk.
  • Limit added sugar, which is most often found in sugar sweetened drinks and desserts. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain, which is hard on your heart.

Regular physical activity also has multiple heart healthy benefits. According to the American Heart Association, exercising for 30 minutes most days of the week can reduce blood pressure, help your heart work more efficiently, manage stress, and maintain a healthy weight.

Knowing your numbers can also help you take charge of your heart health. The St. Vincent Clinic located in Gleaners’ Community Cupboard food pantry can check your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, as well as provide other basic medical services. Walk-in during pantry hours or click here to schedule an appointment online.

Get heart healthy today!

Sources Used:
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention - https://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/index.html
  • Mayo Clinic - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502
  • WebMD - https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/heart-healthy/understanding-heart-attack-prevention
  • GoRedForWomen - https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/healthy-living
  • American Heart Association - https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart