February is often associated with love and romance. The celebration of Valentine’s Day on February 14th is the reason. But February also shines its spotlight on your heart for another reason—it’s American Heart Month. This annual designation dates back to a proclamation initiated by then President Lyndon Johnson in 1963.
The goal of American Heart Month is to raise awareness about a leading cause of death around the world. Cardiovascular disease, which includes both heart disease and stroke, accounts for over 17.9 million deaths each year. By 2030, researchers estimate that number will climb to 23.6 million.
While some of the risk for developing heart disease is genetic, other risk factors are controllable. One of which is diet. The American Heart Association calls a healthy diet one of the “weapons” you can use to fight cardiovascular disease.
Heart Healthy Food Choices
1. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables should comprise the majority of your diet. While fresh is usually best, frozen can be a healthy option too. Just avoid those that contain added sugar, salt, or calorie-laden sauces. If you must eat canned, opt for reduced sodium vegetables and fruits packed in their own juice.
2. Avoid sugary beverages: Water, fat-free milk, and almond milk are typically the healthiest choices in beverages. Avoid sugary sodas of all kinds. Before consuming any sports drinks or beverages promoted as “healthy,” check the label. Many have a high sugar content.
3. Eat lean sources of protein: While protein should be a part of every meal, don’t make the mistake of thinking all proteins are created equal. Lean protein sources like white-meat poultry without the skin and fish are better for your heart than red meat. Eggs, low-fat yogurt, and cheese are other good options.
4. Pump up fiber-rich whole grains: Unlike processed grains, whole grains help manage your cholesterol. That’s essential for preventing heart disease. Oatmeal, whole grain bread, white or brown rice, whole-wheat tortillas, and popcorn are a few suggestions to incorporate into your diet.
5. Limit consumption of sweets: Tasty treats can be tough to resist, but they are often full of sugar, unhealthy fats, and processed flour. Not to mention high in calories. Try to curb your sweet tooth with fruit instead. Fruits like apple, pear, oranges, and bananas are nutrient dense and heart smart.
6. Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale, and collard greens are all great sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One of note is vitamin K. It’s known for protecting the arteries. Dietary nitrates are also found in leafy greens. They help reduce blood pressure and decrease arterial stiffness.
7. Avocados: Are avocados a fruit or a vegetable? It depends on who you talk to about it. One thing most nutritionists agree on is that avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. These healthy fats are linked to lower levels of cholesterol and fewer incidences of heart disease.
Enjoy Delicious and Nutritious Meals at Sunrise
At Sunrise communities, our chefs know the importance of creating meals that are nutritious and delicious. We invite you to join us for a meal to see firsthand how easy it is to enjoy a well-balanced meal when you call a Sunrise community home.
Call 888-434-4648 to learn more and schedule a time for your visit!