Heart Health Month Feature: Self-care for your heart is needed too.
Self-care for your heart is needed too.
This is a great time of the year to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your heart healthy. Heart disease is more common than you might think. It affects both men and women, and is actually the leading cause of death in the United States. Being overweight and having diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or elevated LDL-cholesterol levels (the “bad” kind) increase your risk for heart disease. The good news is that there are plenty of actions you can take to keep your heart healthy, while also promoting weight management and blood sugar control. Keeping your heart healthy may sound overwhelming and with great reason. Consider these tips below as a way to start building better self-care habits for your heart.
- Know Your Numbers – Just like you keep tabs on your glucose and A1c, make sure you get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly, as these are indicators of heart health. Aim for:
- LDL-Cholesterol less than 100
- HDL-Cholesterol greater than 60
- Blood Pressure less than 120/80
- Swap Your Fats – Eating too much saturated fat (mostly found in animal foods) can raise LDL-cholesterol levels. Try swapping it out for heart-healthy fats. For example:
- Cook with olive oil instead of butter or shortening
- Snack on nuts instead of chips or cookies
- Use low-fat Greek yogurt instead of mayo or sour cream in sauces and dips
- Make Friends with Fiber – Fiber, especially the soluble type found in foods such as oats, fruits and veggies, helps lower LDL-cholesterol. Plus, it stabilizes blood glucose– a win-win!
- Be Savvy about Sodium! – You may know that eating too much sodium (salt) increases blood pressure… but did you know that most of sodium in our diets comes not from the salt shaker but rather processed foods? Sodium is a common preservation, so cut back on canned and packaged items in favor of fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains.
- Move More! – Regular physical activity helps lower LDL-cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose. Whether it’s walking, water aerobics or dancing, find the form of exercise you enjoy most, and do it consistently.
- Stop Smoking – If you’re a smoker, now it the time to quit. If you’re struggling to nix the habit, the CDC and American Heart Association websites offer excellent resources.
By choosing Good Measure Meals, you’ve already ensured that you are eating a heart-healthy diet, rich in unsaturated fats and soluble fiber, and low in saturated fat and sodium. For more support reaching your health goals, Good Measure Meals offers a full range of nutrition services, including counseling, metabolic testing and body composition analysis.
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