February Is Healthy Heart Month

— Written By Jimmi Buell and last updated by
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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.

The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. A healthy lifestyle includes the following:

  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Getting enough physical activity.
  • Not smoking or using other forms of tobacco.
  • Limiting alcohol use.

The first step in choosing healthful meal and snack options, that can help you avoid heart disease and its complications is be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Also eating foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. Limiting sugar in your diet can lower your blood sugar level to prevent or help control diabetes.

Many foods are beneficial in fighting heart disease: Lots of fruits and vegetables, wild salmon, walnuts, whole grains (such as oatmeal), red wine, and green tea. Three foods that are helpful, but may surprise you are blueberries, dark chocolate and coffee. 

Blueberries -Studies show that eating lots of berries can reduce several risk factors for heart disease. Berries are rich in antioxidants, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contributes to the development of heart disease. 

Dark Chocolate- It’s true; chocolate is a health food! Just a few ounces of organic cocoa can help improve blood circulation to the brain. It also stimulates “get happy” endorphin production and increases antioxidants.

Coffee – Studies have shown that coffee is high in antioxidants and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Up to three cups a day also increases cognition levels and helps decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Just avoid drowning out the health benefits of your coffee with sugar. Even decaf has the antioxidants, if you are sensitive to caffeine. 

What a great way to eat all these wonderful foods and treat yourself to a little treat: a brain-boosting breakfast cookie. This cookie has dark chocolate, blueberries and a little coffee. Just remember to have only one or two with your morning coffee or afternoon tea and freeze the rest.