There's a lot more to the month of February besides Groundhog, Valentine's and President's Days. It isalso American Heart Month and there's no better time to start taking care of your heart for a healthier and happier life. Here are some tips from Atkins to help get you jump started.
- Take time to measure your waist. Waist size is a predictor of heart health better than your BMI (body mass index). A waist that is over 35 inches can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Keep an eye on your carb intake. According to the Harvard Nurses Study, processed and rapidly digested carbs such as white flour and rice, sugar and packaged cookies, crackers and chips increase a person's risk of coronary heart disease.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Studies have shown that those who eat a healthy breakfast every morning are more successful at losing weight and keeping those extra pounds off than those who don't.
- Aim to squeeze 30 minutes of exercise into your day. Regular exercise helps to strengthen your heart and your body and turns your body into a fat burning machine. If 30 minutes all at once is impossible to do, break it up into shorter sessions.
- Embrace snacking. Indulging in healthy snacks will help stave off the hunger and cravings that make you overindulge. Nuts, cut veggies and string cheese are all good options.
- Eat the right fats. Contrary to what many think, not all fats are created equal. In fact, some types of fat are actually beneficial to your heart. Be sure to include olive oil, avocados, seeds and nut butters in your diet as well as cold water fish such as salmon, halibut and tuna.
- Keep stress in check. Stress will get your heart pumping, but not in a good way. Stress has been shown to have a negative impact on the old ticker, so be sure to treat yourself to some much needed me time by going for a walk, reading a book, enjoying your favorite hobby or meditating.