Did you know that since 1963, the President has declared February American Heart Month to make citizens aware of our nation’s number one killer? (It’s not cancer)! Learning how to protect yourself and loved ones from cardiovascular disease is very important. It seems more people are afraid of being diagnosed with cancer than they are with high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Here are 20 simple things you can do to celebrate and practice prevention this month.
1) Wear Red and support the American Heart Association’s healthy lifestyle prevention plan!
2) Get your cholesterol tested every year: you want your total cholesterol under 200, your HDL above 50 and your LDL under 100.
3) Get your fasting blood sugar under control: you want it under 99.
4) Learn about ways to stop smoking and make a commitment to quit in 2010.
5) Reduce your alcohol intake to about two drinks per week (and choose heart healthy options such as organic red wine).
6) Eat a little square of dark chocolate. The darker the better for your heart.
7) Buy a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps per day.
8) Start using organic, extra-virgin olive oil instead of creamy, sugar-filled salad dressings that are full of cholesterol inducing fat.
9) Eat two cups of vegetables every day.
10) Eat one piece of low-sugar fruit such as berries, apples, or pears.
11) Only buy organic, hormone-free meat.
12) Only buy organic, hormone-free dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream.
13) Learn CPR. It could save someone’s life and only takes a few hours to learn.
14) Aim for 20-30 grams of fiber everyday. This is the recommended amount you need.
15) Take a good quality, fresh fish oil with at least 300mg of DHA and 500mg of EPA. Make sure they test for pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals and rancidity.
16) Start a healthy exercise plan – get that heart rate up for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. A leisurely stroll doesn’t count. You want your blood pumping!
17) Lower your stress levels so there is less pressure on your heart – try yoga, Pilates, meditation, reading and other relaxing activities.