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Follow Your Heart

Celebrating National Heart Health Month

February is the month of filling your heart full of love. Friends, family, pets, are all wonderful parts of life, but have you given thought about yourself lately? It is time for you to show YOUR heart some love this month.

Life can get pretty busy. Whether your life includes balancing a home and work life, managing a household, tending to children and/or aging parents, or being a student, things get stressful. Your own personal health is just as important as those other high-priorities on your to-do list. Do you ever stop to think about what you do to handle your stress and relax your heart?

Stress and Your Heart - A Long Term Relationship

Stress is a common contributor to your overall well-being and health. Increased amounts of stress can lead to high blood pressure which further leads to heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and other cardiovascular problems. Chronic stress contributes to both an emotional and physical toll on the body including anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, upset stomach, and low energy.

Improve Your Relationship

Set clear and specific daily goals:

Setting goals may not seem like it is very important, but it can change your entire perception of the day. Goal setting helps to provide direction and focus on what is important to get accomplished for that day or week. It helps to prioritize your tasks and duties. Setting goals will help you organize your time and resources so that you can make the most of your life.

Include physical activity or exercise into your routine:

Adding physical activity into your routine can drastically help reduce stress and stimulate an increase in endorphins to make you have a better sense of well-being. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are great ways to set positive intentions for the day and help you focus on stillness and breath to let your mind and body relax.

Give yourself and others some love:

Set time to spend your day with the ones you love doing something that brings joy and laughter. This could include taking a trip to the park or sitting down to eat dinner together. You could also try to do good for others. Volunteer at a local food bank, donate clothes to a donation center, volunteer at an animal shelter. Doing good for others in need will also help you to feel good about yourself.

Love What You Eat

An important part of keeping your heart healthy is the nutrients in which you are feeding your body. Eating healthy and watching what you eat for your heart does not mean a boring, bland diet. Here are some nutrition tips to help you maintain a strong and healthy heart.

Make your plate colorful

When building your colorful plate, include fruits and veggies that make up all the colors of the rainbow. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients and antioxidants.

Antioxidants are compounds that help to fight against damaging reactions and cells in the body. Antioxidants are found in foods containing vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, selenium, phenolic compounds, and zinc. Food examples are listed as the following:

  1. Vitamin C: broccoli, cantaloupe, kale, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes

  2. Vitamin E: almonds, avocado, leafy greens, peanuts, red peppers

  3. Carotenoids: apricots, carrots, mangos, peaches, sweet potatoes, watermelon

  4. Selenium: brazil nuts, fish, shellfish, beef, poultry, barley, brown rice

  5. Zinc: Beef, oysters, shrimp, chickpeas, cashews, fortified cereals

  6. Phenolic compounds: apples, tea, berries, grapes, blueberries, red and white wine

Indulge in something delicious

Even while watching what you eat, you are still able to consume foods you enjoy. No need to feel guilty about eating those Valentine chocolates. The important factor to remember is to eat food in moderation. Eating in moderation suggests dietary habits that avoid excess consumption. Notice your hunger cues and how you feel when consuming food. Eating in moderation and providing yourself with a variety of foods can help with weight loss, weight control, hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, and your overall health. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you have a more severe health problem that restricts you from certain foods.

So, let’s show some love this February to the people around us and ourselves! Take the time to tend to your heart and your health.

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