Give Your Heart a Hug

February 07, 2013

February is American Heart Month, a time when we recognize that heart disease is our nation’s number one killer - but it doesn't have to be. Find out SupermarketGuru's best tips here

February is American Heart Month, a time when we recognize that heart disease is our nation’s number one killer - and also a time when we urge Americans to join the battle against the disease.

The chance of developing coronary heart disease can be greatly reduced by taking steps to prevent and control factors including high blood pressure and cholesterol that put people at greater risk – diet, exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle play a huge role in preventing these conditions.

The American Heart Association projects that the costs of heart disease will triple between now and 2030, to more than $800 billion a year. Treating high blood pressure was singled out as the most expensive part of the cost, rising to $389 billion by 2030. Now let’s remind ourselves here, heart disease is largely preventable, through a healthy lifestyle including a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as staying active.

SupermarketGuru’s healthy heart tips:
First off, create a shopping list, creating a list ahead of time not only allows you to make meal plans for the days ahead but also helps you focus your grocery trip. With a list, you can also expect saving of around 20 to 25 percent.

So what should your list include? 
Heart healthy antioxidant rich foods include: tomatoes, oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), green tea, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, cocoa (dark chocolate), berries, apples, and whole-grains. Studies have shown that those who ate 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day had a 39 percent lower risk of stroke than those who did not.

Blue and purple produce like eggplant, plums, red cabbage and grapes are rich in anthocyanidins which help lower risk of heart attack and stroke by dilating blood vessels  and keeping the blood flowing freely.

Included on your list should be foods rich in essential fatty acids like walnuts (unsalted), olive oil, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, avocados, salmon, chia or salba, trout, sardines, herring, and mackerel. Here’s something to chew on: every 1-ounce serving of chia has 10 grams of fiber, 2.5 grams of it is soluble, and a study in Diabetes Care showed eating chia seeds dampens inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and promotes healthy blood glucose levels.

Garlic and onions are also important for heart health as they contain compounds that can help reduce cholesterol levels.

Drinking water and staying active is also great for your heart. Purchase a reusable water bottle and refill with filtered water - available in most places - so you can have water on the go, remain hydrated, and save money.

Be happy and laugh often! Side effect? You may decrease your heart disease risk by about 22 percent, according to a ten-year study of over 1,700 people. Spend time with positive people you enjoy because loneliness can actually increase blood pressure, researchers have found.

Making conscious choices when shopping or eating out can go a long way. Help out your heart with SupermarketGuru’s shopping tips. And as always, please consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.