As February comes to a close along with American Heart Month, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to make heart-healthy decisions. Here are some tips to keep your heart healthy all year long.

Heart Healthy Eating

The foods we eat can directly affect our heart by influencing blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, and other key factors. Keep your heart healthy by adding or keeping these heart-friendly items in your diet and removing ones that can harm it.

Foods to Eat

  • Leafy greens
    • Spinach
    • Cabbage
    • Kale
    • Collared greens
    • Bok choy
  • Other Vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Tomatoes
    • Edamame

Note: Canned and frozen vegetables are great options, too, just be sure to choose ones low in sodium and without added fat, like butter or sauces.

  • Fruits
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Berries
    • Oranges
    • Mangos
    • Papaya
    • Avocado

Note: Canned, frozen, and dried fruit can be great options, too, just be sure to choose ones without added sugars, syrups, etc.

  • Whole Grains
    • Whole-grain bread
    • Whole-grain tortillas
    • Oats (Example: plain oatmeal)
    • Brown rice
    • Quinoa
    • Whole-wheat/grain pasta
    • Couscous
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy
    • 1% or skim milk
    • Cottage cheese
    • Low-fat yogurt
    • Low-fat cheese
  • Protein
    • Salmon/tuna
    • 95%+ lean ground meat
    • Skinless chicken/turkey
    • Eggs
    • Nuts (unsalted)
    • Nut butters
    • Tofu
    • Kidney beans
    • Lentils
    • Chickpeas

Foods to Avoid

  • Processed foods
  • High-fat dairy and meats
  • Added sugar and salt

Other Heart-Healthy Tips

In addition to eating well, keeping your heart healthy also means exercising regularly, managing your stress, and getting enough sleep. It can be hard to balance all of these things (after all there’s only so much time in a day, especially for busy families) but these goals can be slowly added into a routine. For example, you can start by introducing one heart-healthy ingredient with each meal and removing one from the “Avoid” list above. Once per month, you could go for a family hike or bike ride (and/or, even better, a smaller daily walk around the neighborhood). You get the idea, now let’s get started!