FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTHY MONTH
One month into the new year, how are your resolutions holding up? As most of us know, at the top of our lists is
usually a big desire to lose weight, get in shape, eat better and just generally be healthier. The American Heart
Association has some excellent guidelines that everyone should be able to follow.
Eat a variety of fruit and vegetable servings every day. Dark green, deep orange, or yellow fruits and
vegetables are especially nutritious. Examples include spinach, carrots, peaches, and berries.
Eat a variety of grain products every day. Include whole-grain foods that have lots of fiber and nutrients.
Examples of whole grains include oats, whole wheat bread, and brown rice.
Eat fish at least 2 times each week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best for your heart. These
fish include tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.
Stay at a healthy weight by balancing the amount of calories you eat with the activity you do every day. If you
want to lose weight, increase your activity level to burn more calories than you eat.
Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Try to choose the following foods:
Lean meats and meat alternatives like beans or tofu
Fish, vegetables, beans, and nuts
Nonfat and low-fat dairy products
Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, like canola and olive oils, to replace saturated fats, such as
Read food labels and limit the amount of trans fat you eat. Trans fat raises the levels
of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and also lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol in the blood.
Trans fat is found in many processed foods made with shortening or with partially hydrogenated or
hydrogenated vegetable oils. These foods include cookies, crackers, chips, and many snack foods.
Limit sodium. Most people get far more sodium than they need. Try to limit how much sodium (salt) you eat.
For good health, less is best. This is especially important for people who are at risk for or already have high
blood pressure. If you are African-American, have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, or are older than age
50, try to limit the amount of salt you eat to less than 1,500 mg a day. If none of those things describe you, try
to limit sodium to 2,300 mg a day.
Limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
Limit drinks and foods with added sugar.
When you are eating away from home, try to follow these heart-healthy guidelines.
Special considerations include the following:
Older people. As you age, you do not usually need to eat as many calories. Although the general dietary
guidelines remain the same, older people should be careful to choose foods rich in nutrients to meet their
nutritional needs without too many calories.
Children. Children over the age of 2 can follow the AHA diet and lifestyle recommendations and maintain
normal growth while lowering their risk of heart disease in the future.
As always, please check with your doctor in case you have a medical condition. But these guidelines make good
sense for everyone! We want you to stay healthy!