This year, we learned that the number of Americans at risk for heart attack and stroke just got a lot higher. An estimated 103 million adults have high blood pressure, according to new statistics from the American Heart Association, and about 39.7 percent of Americans have high cholesterol. With March being National Nutrition Month, it’s a great time to consider lifestyle changes, such as healthy diet, to reduce these risk factors. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two major controllable risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers.
National Nutrition Month is celebrated every March and is recognized to encourage Americans to be more mindful of their eating and exercising habits. An ideal healthy diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, fish and skinless poultry. It also means avoiding foods high in added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, and fatty and processed meats.
A healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite foods. It’s about making smarter choices, ditching the junk and finding exercises that keep you happy and healthy! An easy way to start is by making small changes such as substituting heavy cream for low-fat yogurt, and adding more color to your plate to ensure you are getting a balanced meal. It’s an easy way to control portions, keep you full and get more energy throughout your day.
For more healthy lifestyle tips and to keep you motivated all year, visit heart.org/healthyforgood.
Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT
Volunteer, The American Heart Association
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