February is the month of valentines, Cupid, and celebrating love. Therefore, it is only fitting that we celebrate American Heart Month throughout February. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. Fortunately, making healthy lifestyle choices can help lower the risk of developing heart disease.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Get active
- As little as 15 minutes per day of aerobic exercise can make a difference in your heart health. Many cities even have walks or runs in February to help promote American Heart Month. Strength training also benefits the cardiovascular system. When you build muscle, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body.
- Eat healthy
- Look for foods with the Heart Check Certified label. These foods have limited sodium, saturated fats, and trans fats. You can also try replacing the salt in recipes with other herbs and spices to enhance flavor. Check out the heart healthy recipe for Cilantro Lime Vegetable Quinoa below.
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke
According to the American Heart Association, when you quit smoking:
- 20 minutes later, your heart rate and blood pressure are lower.
- 12 hours later, the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months later, your blood flow improves.
- 1 year later, your risk of heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes.
- Schedule a visit with your doctor
- From measuring your blood pressure to discussing family history, you can gain a solid understanding of your heart disease risk.
- National Wear Red Day
- Show your support for heart health by wearing red on Friday, February 7th, 2020.
Small changes can make a big difference! What are you doing to support American Heart Month?
Heart Healthy Recipe: Cilantro Lime Vegetable Quinoa
- 1 lime
- 4 tablespoons butter substitute spray or soft margarine (divided)
- 12 ounces zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-inch thick half rounds, 3 cups
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup quinoa
- 4 cups baby kale, about 4 ounces
- 1 cup low-sodium black beans (drained, rinsed)
- 1 cup heirloom grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
- Cilantro, to garnish
- Zest and juice lime to yield 1 tablespoon lime peel and 1 tablespoon lime juice; reserve.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter substitute, spray or margarine, in medium pot over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, onion, chili powder, cumin and salt and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa; reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and stir in baby kale, black beans and remaining 2 tablespoons buttery spread. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
- Stir in cilantro, tomatoes, reserved lime peel and lime juice. Serve with lime wedges.