The heart of a woman

Small changes you can make to have a health­ier heart

The Covington News - - News -

When you’re tak­ing care of a fam­ily, it can be easy to for­get to take care of your­self. But if you don’t, you’re putting your­self at risk for heart dis­ease.

Tak­ing care of your­self doesn’t have to in­volve a com­plete life­style makeover. It starts with small choices you make ev­ery day, like what you eat. Nutri­tion is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially be­cause heart dis­ease is women’s num­ber one killer. It’s worth mak­ing some lit­tle changes that can have a big im­pact.

Make Good Food Choices

It’s a myth that healthy food doesn’t taste good — you can find food both healthy and de­li­cious. If you make healthy eat­ing a habit, you’ll gain a power- ful tool to help you con­trol your weight, re­duce el­e­vated choles­terol and lower high blood pres­sure, all of which are risk fac­tors for heart at­tack and stroke. Set the stage for suc­cess:

• Learn the mean­ing of healthy eat­ing — it’s your diet over time that counts. Em­pha­size fruits, veg­eta­bles, low- fat dairy prod­ucts, lean meat, poul­try and fish.

• Pay close at­ten­tion to the type of fat in your food — avoid trans fat and aim for foods that are low in to­tal fat, sat­u­rated fat and choles­terol.

• Make gro­cery shop­ping quick and easy. Use the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion’s heart- check mark as an easy way to find foods that have been screened and ver­i­fied to be low in sat­u­rated fat and choles­terol. Visit heartcheck­mark. org to cre­ate your per­son­al­ized, heart- healthy list be­fore you go to the store. Print it for fu­ture use, or ac­cess it from your Web- en­abled mo­bile phone or PDA at mylist. heartcheck­mark. org.

• En­joy a large glass of ice wa­ter, hot tea or other calo­rie- free bev­er­age, in­stead of a sug­ary soda. Gar­nish with a twist of lemon or lime.

• Di­vide a dish pre­pared at home into por­tions to eat through­out the rest of the week, or freeze for an­other time.

• Eat with other peo­ple. You may eat less when oth­ers are around.

• Try a piece of fruit be­fore eat­ing a meal — it may help you curb your ap­petite

• Know your snack “ trig­gers” and plan ahead. Fight the urge for high- calo­rie/ high- sat­u­rated- fat and trans fat foods by grab­bing pre­cut car­rots, cel­ery and other raw veg­eta­bles.

Here are some other sug­ges­tions from the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion to help you take care of your heart.

• Give your­self the gift of health for your birth­day — make an ap­point­ment for a checkup and talk with your doc­tor about how you can re­duce your risk for heart dis­ease.

• Get off the couch. Walk briskly for at least 30 min­utes five days a week. Don’t have 30 min­utes? Break your walk­ing into three 10minute seg­ments.

• Quit smok­ing. It isn’t easy, but it is pos­si­ble. Check with your doc­tor and oth­ers in your com­mu­nity for smok­ing ces­sa­tion pro­grams. It may take sev­eral at­tempts to quit — so don’t give up if you fail the first, fifth or tenth time. Keep try­ing. Oth­ers have quit; so can you!

To learn more about how you can re­duce your risk for heart dis­ease, visit amer­i­can­heart. org.

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