Since 1964, the United States has recognized February as American Heart Month, a moment to bring awareness toward the importance of heart health. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one person dies every 36 seconds from heart disease within the country.
It is also a primary cause of death among most racial and ethnic groups in the country.
Heart disease refers to several types of heart-related conditions. The most common among them, coronary artery disease, refers to a narrowing or blockage caused by plaque buildup in arteries which can ultimately cause a heart attack.
The risk of heart disease also seeps into food insecurity with great concern.
When adults and/or families do not have access to nutritionally adequate food options, they are more likely to experience nutrient deficiencies, mental health problems, as well as chronic illnesses including high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
In one study, researchers found a higher incidence of death related to heart disease among individuals who face food insecurity.
In addition, Feeding America estimates that among more than half of the households served, at least one member has high blood pressure.
The bottom line: a poor diet can lead to poor health outcomes.
These statistics may seem alarming, however, there is a positive light. You can reduce your risks of heart disease by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Let’s dive into some helpful ways to show our hearts some tender, loving, care:
Work closely with your doctor to determine what these numbers are and how to develop goals.
Being overweight or obese can greatly increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Check with your doctor about your body mass index (BMI) or weight status, and work together to improve your weight or maintain a healthy weight status.
Regular physical activity can improve your weight, strengthen your muscles, decrease stress, and reduce many heart disease risk factors.
Talk with your doctor first, to determine which types of physical activity and amount of time are safe for you.
Limit sodium (salt), added sugars, as well as saturated and trans fats, as too many of these types of foods can promote high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
Be sure to color your plate with fruits and vegetables to get a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Also increase your intake of whole grains, which will help with constipation, and allow you to feel full longer.
Show your heart some love with this tasty whole-grain recipe.
Fun tip: For an added touch of sweetness and flavor add honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, or coconut flakes. Looking for some crunchiness? Add granola or nuts to your overnight oats.