LOVE YOUR HEART THIS HEART HEALTH MONTH
Authors: Claire Hurd, Melissa Johnson, Josie Moguin
February is often associated with love, chocolate, flowers, and romance. But did you know that February is also associated with heart health? Alongside Valentine’s Day, February is also Heart Health Month. Heart disease is on the rise in the U.S., and we have put together some general tips and recipes that are heart-health friendly. Please talk to your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise regimen.
1. Be informed about what you’re eating
One of the most important health goals you can make, is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal or snack. Most of us do not eat as many fruits and vegetables as we need to be healthy, so start today by adding one new fruit or vegetable to your plate!
- Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and are a great source of nutrients. They are rich in potassium and fiber, which aids in controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Fruits and vegetables to choose from include fresh, frozen, low-sodium canned vegetables, and fruits canned in juice or water.
- Reading the label is a great way to see the nutrients that are in the products you are consuming. Using the 5/20 rule for nutrition can be useful to guide better choices. If the percentage on the label is closer to 5% there is a low amount of the nutrient in the product. If the percentage is closer to 20% there is a high amount of the nutrient.
- Some of our favorite healthy recipes right now include our Classic Potato Leek Soup, Creamy Carrot Potato Ginger Soup, and Colorful Black Bean Salad. You can find more recipes on The Second Harvest Kitchen website.
2. GET REGULAR EXCERCISE
Getting regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering the strain on your heart and increasing cardiovascular health. The general guideline from the CDC is to aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily activity for adults.
3. SET SMALL AND ACHIEVABLE GOALS
- Try preparing your own meal once a day. Or cook in bulk once or twice a week. The Second Harvest Kitchen website offers a variety of recipes that are quick, healthy, and affordable. The recipes are searchable by meals, dietary preference, ingredients, and are also available in Spanish. Some of our recommendations are the Roasted Chicken with Italian Seasoning, and the Creamy Vegan Garlic Pasta. If you are striving to find a healthy life balance with sweet treats, we recommend checking out the Fresh Berry Crisp recipe by Chef Laurent.
- Aim for 5-10 minutes of movement every day. Simple daily activities such as housekeeping, taking the stairs, taking out the trash, and walking your dog show benefits and can help to reach your health goals.
Changing your lifestyle and diet can sound daunting. But taking small steps can make it seem more attainable. Focus on what steps you are taking to improve your health and start small. And give yourself grace to be human! The overall goal is to improve heart health, not to be perfect, and by setting small achievable goals you are already on the right track!
Happy Heart Health Month!