February is American Heart Month, helping to draw awareness of our nations leading killer, heart disease. Taking steps to fight this controllable and preventable disease means paying extra attention to our daily decisions, such as amount of exercise and eating right.
Wearing a pedometer is an easy way to keep track of how active you are during the day. Getting the recommended 10,000 steps is not as difficult as it may sound. Another popular means of tracking fitness level is heart-rate monitoring. The award-winning Mio ALPHA is the world’s first heart rate sport watch that offers accurate, continuous heart-rate monitoring at performance levels. It is equipped with Bluetooth Smart (4.0) technology that connects Mio ALPHA to fitness apps on iPhone and select Android devices. (www.mioglobal.com).
Being more active is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to heart health, what you eat is another. Most people who try to diet end up failing, for a variety of reasons. Instead of forcing yourself to avoid certain foods, look for a healthier alternative. For foods that you just won’t give up, try cutting the portion to half its normal size. Also consider switching from full fat products to fat free, replace high-calorie sugary drinks with water and increase fiber so you feel fuller faster.
Allison Stowell is a registered dietitian with Guiding Stars (guidingstars.com), a nutrition guidance program that rates the nutritional quality of food using information from the Nutrition Facts Panel and the ingredients list. Stowell’s 6 choices to better heart health include:
Choose vitamins and minerals/RD pick: fruit and vegetables. No need for artificial vitamins and supplements when you are consuming a diet complete with colorful fruits and vegetables.
Lower your sodium intake/RD pick: organic no-salt added products. Read food labels, and consume less processed foods. When salt intake is high, your taste buds can become immune to the taste, leading to greater use over time.
Increase fiber and whole grains/RD pick: Post shredded wheat spoon size wheat n’ bran cereal. Made from whole grain wheat and wheat bran, Stowell states that this cereal is low in calories, rich in fiber and protein and is saturated/trans fat free.
Consume Less Added Sugar/RD Pick: Chobani Plain, Non-fat Greek Yogurt. Twice the protein per serving of regular yogurt and no sugar added, it’s perfect for a low-calorie meal or snack, or as a stand in for high-fat dairy products.
Avoid Trans Fats/RD Pick: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Deliciously Simple Spread. Deliciously simple with just 9 you-can-read-them ingredients.
Choose the Right Fat. Avoid artery clogging trans fats and opt for heart healthy foods such as freshwater fish, seeds and nuts and whole grains.