Celebrate American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, which is a good time for everyone in your family to learn about “heart-healthy” foods and how to reduce their risk for heart disease. Here are some simple (yet significant) actions recommended by the American Heart Association:

1. Get a Checkup
Get a yearly physical and a talk with your doctor about your potential risk for heart disease.

2. Stay in Shape
Work up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Step, march, jog in place—you can even do it while watching TV.

3. Maintain a Heart-Healthy Weight
By simply cutting out 500 to 1,000 calories a day you can lose up to two pounds per week.

4. Quit Smoking
It’s best not to start this unhealthy habit in the first place!

5. Eat a Hearth-Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet overall, along with regular physical activity, is an important step in reducing risk factors for heart disease.

6. Watch Your Salt Intake
Check out the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods to see how much sodium (salt) they contain. Aim for a total intake of no more than 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon of salt) per day.

When it comes to diet, salt isn’t the only food you should limit. The American Heart Association recommends eating a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups, such as choosing vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and limiting saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Did You Know…? The American Heart Association’s (AHA) heart-check mark is a great tool to identify a food that meets the AHA’s certification criteria for saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and healthful nutrients. Look for AHA’s Heart-Check mark on food packages and next to menu items in select restaurants.

The American Heart Association’s Getting Healthy website has information on nutrition, physical activity, weight management, stress management, and how to raise healthy kids. Learn how to lose weight, lower stress, eat healthy, stop smoking, get more exercise and teach kids how to stay healthy.

Check out these free AHA resources:

For the Classroom – Elementary and Middle School Lesson Plans

For the Gym – Activities and Games

For the Home – Family & Friends® CPR Anytime® Personal Learning Program allows anyone to learn the core skills of CPR in just 20 minutes using their own personal kit. The kit contains everything needed to learn basic CPR, AED skills and choking relief anywhere, from the comfort of your home to a large group setting.

For Teens – Be the Beat is an online Sudden Cardiac Arrest awareness initiative to teach teens all across the country the simple steps that can save a life—and create the next generation of lifesavers.

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