February is American Heart Month, intended to raise awareness that cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, is the No. 1 cause of death in America. February is also known for Valentine's Day, a time to shower love on those who are dear to us! This month, take a moment to love your heart by committing to one or more of the following steps to keep your heart healthy and strong:
Improve your weight. A healthy weight is important for a long, active life. Excess weight and obesity cause many preventable diseases.
Get moving and be more physically active. Try to include 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week.
Eat for heart health. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Be sure to include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Include treats in small amounts and enjoy them rather than feeling guilty; just don't overdo it!
Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor and a dietitian to improve any numbers that are not normal.
If you smoke, try to quit. People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers.
There are many online resources available to help you assess your risk of cardiovascular disease, screen your current health, test your knowledge of heart disease and prevention, and learn more about heart-health. Visit www.heart.org or www.cdc.gov/features/ heartmonth for more information. There are also many books, including cookbooks available at the Maino Community Health Library, 1700 McHenry Ave., Suite 60B, Modesto (in McHenry Village) or your local public library.
Collins is a registered dietitian with Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.