February is Heart Month!
It seems fitting that Valentine’s Day and Heart Month are both in February. Here are a few facts to start us off…
- 55% of people ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day.
- 90% of Americans consume over the daily recommendation of sodium intake.
- 1 in 6 children have high blood pressure.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US.
- Heart disease contributes to every 1 in 4 female deaths.
Diet, exercise, and genetics play a role in our heart health. Although, we can’t control our genetics, let’s look at we can control, diet and exercise. Diets high in fat and sodium are major contributors to high blood pressure and heart disease. High blood pressure is known as a silent killer because there are no signs or symptoms that you have it. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly and understand the numbers.
For healthy adults, the sodium recommendation is 2,300mg. That’s only one teaspoon a day! This is a small amount and adds up quickly throughout the day.
So, what are ways to reduce sodium? Here are a few quick tips to start today:
- Cooking from scratch and using spices and herbs
- Restaurant foods are loaded with salt and very processed. Cooking at home with fresh and familiar ingredients will reduce your sodium intake drastically.
- Have you tried garlic?? In my opinion this is the only spice you need because it goes with everything!
- However, be aware of spice blends such as chipotle or Italian or Taco seasoning. These blends are filled with sodium and often times you can create your own blend at home, without using salt.
- Read the nutrition label and look for no salt added/reduced sodium products
- Salt is sneaky. Even food items you don’t think would have salt do. Take some extra time at the store and compare products. You would be surprised how different brands nutrition is vastly different.
- Buy fresh or frozen vegetables compared to canned goods.
- If you do purchase canned – that’s okay too! Many brands have no salt added products now. Be sure to rinse the item before serving or consuming.
In order to love ourselves or others better, we need to keep our heart healthy. What steps are you taking to keep your heart health in check? Whether it is reducing your sodium through cooking at home or knowing your numbers, you are taking the right steps to stay healthier for longer!
Check out the American Heart Association’s website for recipes, tips, and resources.