American Heart Month: The Complete Healthy, Happy Heart Guide

February is American Heart Month, and to celebrate heart health awareness, February 1st is Wear Red Day!

Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States. And it continues to grow in power. But why? Perhaps we just don’t know how to take care of our hearts to avoid the disease.

Overall healthy diet and exercise are the best ways to fight against heart disease. Small steps toward your overall goals can help you in reaching toward and more healthy heart.

Make Sure to be as Active as Your Diet Dictates

Many people do not know their resting metabolic rate, or the lowest amount of calories you need to ingest to maintain all your bodily functions. Those with high metabolisms, or high activity will have a higher RMR than those who are less active.

But aim to consume the same amount of calories you burn off during exercise. For example, if you’re RMR is 1500 calories, and you consume 2000 calories a day, that means you need to burn off 500 calories in exercise or general activity in the day in order to not gain weight. Remember that low intensity walking burns between 90 and 200 calories per 30 minutes.

American Heart Month

If you can fit 1-2 hours of walking in a day by simple measures like walking to lunch, parking farther away, or taking the stairs, then you’re doing a good job of keeping those extra 500 calories from turning into extra weight.

Heart Healthy Nutrition

The American Heart Association recommends you eat a balanced diet that is focused in nutrients like protein and other important minerals to maintain a healthy weight.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, poultry and fish, and healthy fats like nuts and oils are all part of a healthy diet.

Remember that while what you eat is important to overall health, as we mentioned above, the amount you eat plays a huge role in whether you maintain a healthy weight. Make sure you’re eating appropriately for your average activity level. If you’re not, look to increase your activity, or decrease your caloric intake.

Avoid Bad Foods

Many people start off the New Year thinking “I’m going to stop drinking soda this year,” and often, they don’t follow through with that goal. But now we’re into American Heart Month, and thinking about what you eat in relation to your overall health can help you sticking to your resolutions.

Cutting added sugar like fruit juices, sodas, and that caramel sweetener you add to your morning coffee is the easiest way to help achieve heart health. Sugar is hard for your body to process and it can kick our cardiovascular systems into overdrive. Avoid it at all costs.

Reduce the amount of alcohol in your diet. This is often difficult for those who love to go out for a drink after work with your coworkers, but it’s another one of the easy foods you can cut out of your diet. Alcohol is often very calorically dense. One ounce of red wine has about 25 calories. If you’re drinking 2 glasses at the end of the day, that’s 250 calories.

Live by the mantra “Don’t drink your calories” and you’ll be on the right track for a healthy heart.

Get Rid of Tobacco

It’s pretty widely known that tobacco, in all forms, is bad for your health. Not only does it damage your lungs beyond belief, but it can affect your heart health! According to several studies, you can reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 36% just by quitting smoking.

For more information on the American Heart Association, Wear Red Day, or American Heart Month, go the American Heart Association’s website.

As always, share with us the ways you live a heart healthy lifestyle!