How are you celebrating Valentines Day? Flowers and chocolates are nice, but the best gift of all is to keep your heart healthy and your Valentines heart, too.
In honor of Valentines Day 2020, here are 20 tips from the cardiology team at FHN to help boost your heart health:
Start with a trip to your health care provider for a checkup. This will give you baseline information such as your height, weight, and blood pressure and could alert you to any problems.
Keep away from crispy. Many fast-food restaurants offer a relatively healthy sandwich option a grilled chicken sandwich. Crispy means fried. You dont have to give up fried foods completely; its OK to indulge in a treat, but it shouldnt be a daily habit.
Taste before you salt. Do you usually salt your food before you start eating? Have a taste first it might not need any additional salt!
Get moving. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, but your heart will benefit from any amount of exercise. You can break up the time, too hit your goal with some low-impact aerobics in the morning and a brisk walk in the afternoon.
If you smoke, stop. Talk with your health care provider about ways to quit.
Dont use e-cigarettes. Research suggests that vaping is bad for your heart and lungs.
De-stress. Stress can do more than make you grouchy: It can hurt your heart. You dont have to roll out a yoga mat try closing your eyes and concentrating on a few deep breaths when youre feeling stressed.
Take care of your teeth. Though it hasnt been scientifically proven, there appears to be a connection between healthy teeth and gums and your heart health. Brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings can help keep your mouth healthy.
Substitute. If your recipe calls for heavy cream, use a mixture of equal amounts low-fat milk and evaporated fat-free milk. If youre baking, try substituting 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce for a cup of butter, margarine, oil or shortening.
Spice it up! Use herbs, spices, citrus juices or vinegar instead of salt when you are cooking.
Eat more color. Nutritional guidelines say to eat five servings or more of fruits and vegetables each day. Try eating something from every color group red and pink, blue and purple, yellow and orange, white and brown and green. You can find an American Heart Association color wheel at fhn.org/EatMoreColor.
Up your fiber intake. A diet rich in soluble fiber like oats, black beans, apples, and pears can help to lower your cholesterol and make you feel full.
Take the stairs. It might not seem like much, but choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator and finding a parking spot just a bit farther away from the door are good habits. If you work in an office, try walking over to speak with someone instead of sending an email. When you can, move!
Get a good nights sleep. Rest isnt a luxury, your body needs it. Make sure youre getting seven to eight hours of good sleep each night.
Watch your fats. Choose lean cuts of meat and low-fat versions of dairy products to cut down on your saturated fats, and avoid trans fats. Check ingredient lists on the foods you buy, and put anything that has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated in the list back on the shelf.
The less processed, the better. In general, less processed foods are healthier. Short-cuts like canned, frozen, or pre-chopped fresh vegetables are fine, but steer clear of ready to eat meals that often contain added fats, sugars and calories.
Watch what youre drinking. Sugary sodas and juice dont add anything but calories to your diet. And treating yourself to a foamy, sweet coffee drink is about the same as having a candy bar.
Limit alcohol. No matter what the latest study says about red wine or hard liquor, drink alcohol in moderation. Dont have more than one or two drinks a day.
Eat a healthy diet. Try to have fish (broiled, baked or grilled not fried) at least twice a week; its lean and packed with good nutrients. Fill up on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
Try some pet therapy. Playing with your cat or walking your dog provides a bit of exercise, and the unconditional love (and snuggles) a pet can provide are good for your heart!
From all of us on FHNs heart team, have a happy, healthy Valentines Day!
Kristine Fosler, ACNP-BC cares for patients as part of the FHN Cardiology team.
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FHN News: 20 tips for a healthy heart this Valentines Day - Freeport Journal-Standard
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