It’s February: Love Your Heart
February is American Heart Month
As usual, when beginning to write my blog for Safest Choice Eggs, I spend some time just thinking about my topic. It’s so interesting to examine some cultural habits and understand the how and why we take some things for granted. So, why is February designated as American Heart Month? Some have suggested that Valentine’s Day is on February 14th, and this holiday is associated with romance and “affairs of the heart.”
The American Heart Month is a National Observance created in 1986, when the American Heart Association first worked with Congress to address the growing epidemic of heart disease and to “urge the people of the United States to recognize the nationwide problem of heart disease and blood vessel diseases and to support all essential programs required to solve the problem.” Each year the President declares the observance again.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease continues to lead all other causes of American deaths daily, at least 2,200 each day! For reasons not yet understood, women fare much worse than men do after suffering a heart attack; 42% of women die within one year, compared to 24% of men.
What You Can Do To Prevent Heart Disease
So, what can you do to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke? It turns out you can do a lot! Some things cannot be changed—you can’t change your genes or your inherited risk for some diseases and you can’t change your past and your family’s influence on your habits growing up. But today, and every day moving forward, you can make changes to your behaviors. You can choose what you want to change, and you can work toward living healthfully. There are so many things that you can do positively that they can outweigh the unchangeable negatives.
The American Heart Association has a wonderful webpage called Life’s Simple7, where you can learn some practical steps to Love Your Heart!
- Get Active
- Eat better
- Get to a healthy weight for You
- STOP smoking
- Control cholesterol
- Manage blood pressure
- Control blood glucose
I see these simple life choices available to us all—there are so many areas of our lives that are not possible for us to control. We are so lucky to have some unique freedoms when it comes to what we eat and how active we are. Of course, we are free to be overweight, unhealthy, and inactive. We can choose fast food, processed and packaged refined junk. And, we’re also free to choose fresh food and prioritize our food dollars. We can set the alarm early enough to get in some exercise before work, or we can roll over and snooze.
Loving Your Heart
Variety is the spice of life! This applies for foods, and for activities. Walk, dance, Zumba, hula-hoop, and try new activities to get your heart rate up this year. Mix it up on your plate and eat different fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes and gain a rainbow of important nutrients—vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—to keep you healthy.
Reduce your consumption of red meat, and avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Eat ‘little’ fish like sardines and anchovies (high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids), instead of “big fish” like tuna and swordfish, which may contain toxic mercury. Plan meals with meat, poultry, and fish more as a condiment, or ingredient, in your diet…plant-based meals also mean more heart-healthy fiber. Calcium-rich dairy fits daily (nonfat or low fat) and so do eggs, for adequate iron, selenium, vitamin B-12, zinc, and calcium.
Love your heart! Here’s to a healthy Heart Month and beyond.