Ah, February: A month dedicated to love and that pitter-patter feeling you get when you set your sights on your sweetheart. But February also marks American Heart Month, a reminder to love your own heart by keeping it healthy and to raise awareness of heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. So what’s smart for your heart? Here are five habits to keep your heart healthy.
You won’t know if you have high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol if you don’t get tested. Heart disease is a silent killer and can go unnoticed until it’s too late. Plus, it can begin at any age, so schedule a yearly check in with your doctor to keep tabs on how your cardiovascular system is working.
There’s a reason cigarettes are fatalistically called “death sticks.” Smoking doubles your risk for having a heart attack. It also narrows your arteries, causes clotting, and raises both your blood pressure and cholesterol. Secondhand smoke is just as harmful. Chemicals released in smoke can speed up the development of plaque in your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent.
Sweat it out
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. That’s just a 30-minute brisk walk at lunchtime, five days a week. Doable, right? We think so, too. Not only will you be giving your heart a workout, but you’ll also notice a positive and healthy difference on the scale and in your mood. Get moving throughout the day by parking farther away, taking the stairs and doing a few exercises at your desk. A sweat session at the gym to pump up your muscles and your heart is the best medicine to combat heart disease.
An apple a day
Healthy food equals a healthy heart. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and find inspiration with Fresh & Free Additions you can add to your Jenny Craig meals. Additionally, whole grains, legumes, low fat dairy and lean protein are heart healthy foods that will also shrink your waistline. You can boost good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) by avoiding saturated fats and trans fats and incorporating unsaturated fats, like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, into your meals. These good fats are found in olive and canola oils, almonds, hazelnuts, olives and avocados. Eating oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout) rich in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week is a heart-healthy way to mix up your weekly menu and effectively lower LDL levels, according to the American Heart Association.
Life can be hectic, leading to lots of stress and potentially negative impacts on your health (and your heart). Find time for yourself to relax and recharge every day. Relieve stress by exercising, dancing to your favorite song, meditating or taking a bubble bath. Not getting enough sleep could also adversely affect your heart, increasing your risk for heart disease, obesity, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Aim for at least seven hours of beauty rest, so you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Exercise, nutrition and life balancing are fundamental to a healthy heart, but also key in the Jenny Craig program for weight loss. Make strides in your efforts for a healthier and happier you today!
Edited by Kari - Jenny Craig