FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH MONTH

Jennifer Carland, RD, CDN

 

More than 67 million Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), the leading cause of stroke and heart disease when uncontrolled, according to the CDC. High blood pressure may not present symptoms, so it’s important to have regular checkups with your doctor.

 

Tips for taking care of your heart

  • Monitor – Check blood pressure often
  • Exercise – Become more active; take walks and try to increase activity as you progress
  • Quit smoking – Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help
  • Eat healthy – Enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and avoid processed foods that are high in saturated fat and trans fat which can increase cholesterol levels, thus increasing the risk of heart disease. Processed foods are also high in sodium (salt) which can also affect heart health.

What’s  the problem with salt?

  • While 2400-3000 milligrams (1 teaspoon of salt) is recommended safe each day to assist in body function, most people consume far more.
  • Not only do we get our sodium from foodsthat have sodium added in processing including canned goods and packaged foods, but some foods naturally contain sodium such as pickles, olives, ketchup, bacon, ham, and sausage.
  • Too much sodium from food, added or natural, can raise blood pressure. You may lower your risk by reducing salt intake.

By making healthy foods choices, exercising, not smoking, and frequently monitoring blood pressure, you can take control of your heart health. Keep your heart healthy this month and every month!