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Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S and because February is known as "Heart Month" what a great time to critique your habits and see if you are on track.

Start by answering “yes” to those you do on a consistent basis:

  • I eat salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring or sardines 2-3x/week
  • Half of my plate consists of fruits and vegetables at lunch and dinner
  • I eat oats/oatmeal, beans or lentils daily
  • I choose olive, canola or peanut oil over vegetable oil, shortening or margarine
  • I drink low fat dairy: skim or 1% milk, low fat cheeses and yogurts most often
  • I avoid fried foods including chips, french-fries and fried meats (chicken nuggets, bacon, etc.)
  • I rarely eat crackers, bakery items, packaged cookies, non-dairy creamers, pre-packaged meals
  • I eat for fuel and in response to hunger 80-90% of the time
  • I get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week
  • Take time to de-stress, be mindful and relax daily

If you answered yes to most of these things, congratulations and keep up the great work!

If you answered no to most of these items and would like to work on improving your lifestyle, below are some ideas. Start with on one at a time. Soon, you will have developed some heart healthy habits.

  • Remove stick margarine and shortening from your kitchen
  • Choose natural peanut or nut butters
  • Use fruits and vegetables for side dishes and season with fresh herbs and olive oil if needed
  • Select vegetables instead chips or fries with sandwiches
  • Drink more water
  • Pause and ask if hungry before eating
  • Choose salad dressings made with olive or canola oil or make your own
  • Choose hummus instead of mayonnaise or dill dip
  • Have one handful of nuts each day
  • Implement meatless meals into your week. For example: Meatless Mondays
  • Use beans in place of meat in salads, soups, casseroles and even baked items
  • Choose low-fat dairy products (mozzarella, farmers and Swiss cheese)
  • Have oatmeal for breakfast or top your cold cereal with dry rolled oats
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flax to smoothies, cereal or oatmeal
  • Choose from the healthy section or 500 Club on the menu when dining out
  • Go for a walk instead of watching TV
  • Play with your kids at the park instead of watching them
  • Walk during a small window of free time between events or when waiting to pick up a child
  • Slow down and de-stress by being mindful several times per day by taking time to take a deep breath, focus on inhale and exhale of breath when walking from one location to another, or visualize leaving a trail of your daily struggles roll off your back as you walk out of work

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