Let’s Celebrate Heart Month
How do you take care of your heart? February is American heart month, a time of year to bring awareness to heart disease and remind us of the importance of heart health. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and managing risk factors can reduce a person’s chance of developing heart disease. Last year, the LEEding Toward Wellness health task force promoted heart health by implementing the red tablecloth initiative throughout our community. Through this initiative, red table cloths at events symbolized that the foods on the table promoted heart health. It was fun to see how different groups and organizations adapted this initiative to their events!
Although this heart month looks different from the past, there are still ways to celebrate. For example, help raise awareness of heart health by sharing your story and why it is important to you on social media. Or, simply wear red on February 5 for National Wear Red Day! Another way to celebrate is to think through ways you can add more heart-healthy habits into your routine. Habits that can help to lower your risk for heart disease include:
- Take time to be mindful and relax. Take breaks in the day to breathe deeply, enjoy your meals, and be present. Focus on positive thoughts. Take walking breaks when you find yourself feeling stressed.
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure. Soluble fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help in reducing cholesterol levels. Try to make half of your grains whole grains and half of your plate fruits and vegetables. The potassium in fruits and vegetables may also help in lowering blood pressure. Avoid foods high in salt due to the fact that they may increase blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Moderation for men is considered one to two drinks daily and for women, it is considered one drink daily. Drinking more alcohol than this has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, alcoholism, stroke, obesity, suicide, and accidents.
- Get active and eat healthy foods. The American Heart Association recommends getting 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week. Make sure to include foods from all five food groups: dairy, fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains. Choose low-fat dairy and protein options. Also, read food labels and limit high sodium foods.
Need additional ideas for how you can take part in heart month? Follow “The Heart Truth” on Facebook. This page was created by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and provides tools to take action against heart disease.
The LEEding Toward Wellness task force started in August 2017. The group is comprised of multiple community partners who share the mission of educating, empowering and connecting all Lee County residents to opportunities that provide them with healthy resources.
The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on food safety, wellness, and nutrition please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Alyssa Anderson, MS, RDN, LDN at 919-775-5624.