Be Heart Smart – Make Heart Healthy Choices

Be Heart Smart - Make Healthy ChoicesFebruary is more than Valentine candy, heart-shaped chocolates, and flowers. February is also American Heart Month.

American Heart Month is a national event sponsored by the American Heart Association. It is designed to provide the public with nutritional information that could lead to a more healthful diet that is low in overall fats, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States each year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

Eating habits are something we acquire as we grow up. Over the years, family eating habits have changed drastically. There is less emphasis given to well-planned family meals. American food habits are leaning more toward meals eaten away from home, and more reliance on fast food, convenience foods, and high-sugar, high-salt snacks.

The food choices we make today are important to our nutritional well-being tomorrow. A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fruits and vegetables and grain products that contain some type of dietary fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Be Heart Smart. Make heart healthy choices at every meal. Basic steps to a heart smart diet are simple and easy:

  • Select whole grains and cereals
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit sodium intake
  • Use oil products made from unsaturated vegetable oils instead of saturated oils like coconut and palm kernel.
  • Select cooking methods that are lower-fat alternatives to frying, such as grilling, baking, broiling, or microwaving
  • Choose lean meat, poultry, and fish

Your health is your most precious possession. A healthy diet is only one part of a heart healthy lifestyle. Physical activity is another important component. The American Heart Association physical activity guidelines recommend some type of aerobic exercise daily, and walking, dancing, biking, swimming, or gardening are good examples. Be sure to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

We are all concerned about maintaining good health. Developing good eating habits based on moderation and variety, plus physical activity, can help keep, and even improve your health.

For further information, go to the University of Florida Solutions for your life website,


Photo credit: Dorothy C. Lee

Dorothy C. Lee, CFCS
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences


Posted: February 5, 2014

Category: Health & Nutrition, Work & Life

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