February is Heart Health Month! Love your heart and take charge of your heart health. 

 The topic of heart health relating to your diet has been a major topic of discussion for quite a long time now. You may know that certain foods are better or worse for your heart health. Changing eating habits can be a challenge but keeping in mind certain heart-healthy tips can be a lifesaver! Whether you are wanting to learn how to change unhealthy eating habits or modify your diet, here are 8 tips to help you kick off Heart Health Month and keep you going throughout the year: 

  1. Control your portion sizeHow much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Controlling portion sizes is important to maintaining a healthy heart. Eating until you’re completely stuffed will not help your cause and will lead to eating more than you should.   
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetablesFruits and veggies are low in calories and rich in fiber. Fresh produce is a great source of vitamins and minerals that can help prevent heart disease!  
  3. Choose whole grainsWhole grains help support a heart-healthy diet. It is important not to confuse whole grains with refined grain products, which do not have the same fiber or nutrients as whole grains. Examples of refined grains include white bread, muffins, egg noodles, popcorn, and high-fat snack crackers. Whole grains help regulate blood pressure and can be found in:  
    • high fiber cereal
    • whole-grain bread 
    • whole-grain pasta 
    • brown rice 
    • oatmeal

Limit unhealthy fatsUnderstanding what saturated and trans fats are and how to reduce these fats in your diet is important to reducing your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. Trimming fat from meats, choosing lean meat, and limiting butter, cream sauces, nondairy creamers, and shortenings are all ways to reduce saturated and trans fats from your diet. Choose healthier options such as olive oil, margarine, nuts, seeds, and avocados.  

Eat low-fat high protein choicesTry to choose low-fat high protein options when planning your meals. Lean meat, poultry, fish, beans and lentils, and eggs are good sources of protein that are low in fat.   

Reduce sodium: Reducing sodium is important to maintaining optimal heart health.  Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure.  Eating fresh foods reduces the amount of sodium in your diet. Avoid canned or processed foods, which contain high amounts of sodium.

Plan a daily menuPlanning ahead using heart-healthy strategies will help you get all the nutrients your body needs. Be sure to plan for portion sizes, too!

Treat yourself once in a while: Indulging once in a while as a special treat will help satisfy your non-heart healthy cravings without going off the rails.  

Decrease your risks for heart attacks, stroke, and coronary artery disease. Planning ahead for your heart health success will help you stay heart-healthy for a lifetime!