By Emilia “Lavender” Liem, Copy Editor


February marks American Heart Month. According to the American Heart Association, the number one killer for women is heart disease. This month, show love not only to that special person in your life, but to your heart, too. We tend to neglect our hearts because we think only older or unhealthy people would suffer from heart problems. While there are some genetic factors that cannot prevent you from developing heart disease, it is more important than ever to start healthy heart habits and prevent any of these issues from coming up in the future.

Here are some simple changes to your lifestyle that you can make:

Quit smoking. Smoking can harm all organs in the body, but in regards to the heart, smoking tobacco products constricts your blood vessels, increasing your risk for blockage in the arteries.

Cut down on alcohol. That means no more than one drink a day, ladies. According to www.womensheart.org, a moderate amount of alcohol per day can actually help protect against heart disease. But anything more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men can hurt more than help. Heavy drinking over a period of time will lead to high blood pressure, heart damage, stroke and other heart problems.

Be on the move. Just 30 minutes of activity every day can make a huge difference in your heart’s health. Take a brisk walk, jog, jump rope, dance, swim or do a combination of activities.

Calm down. Reduce stress by doing activities that you truly enjoy. Avoid stressful situations that can raise your blood pressure.

Change your diet. That means sticking to lean meats such as pork, turkey and chicken. Fish is also a good option. Cutting down on salt, whether picking out foods with little or no salt, or not adding salt, also helps.  Same goes for food and drinks with lots of added sugar. Pick out low-fat dairy products, including skim or 1% fat milk. Choose whole grain foods like brown rice, multi-grain breads and whole wheat pasta.

Sources:
http://www.suite101.com/content/national-american-heart-month-women-and-heart-disease-a325489
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HeartMonth/

Photo credit:

http://lancastria.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/heart_health_lancastria.jpg