July 18, 2023

Cooking at home is a good first step, but there are other ways to help keep your heart healthy.

It doesn’t have to be New Year’s to resolve to live a healthier, heart-smarter lifestyle. The choices we make today impact our health now and in the future. Commit to a few small changes and love your heart in five easy ways.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to improve heart health naturally. You can easily boost your fruit and vegetable intake by simply eating a fruit or veggie with every meal. Have sliced banana on your cereal, carrots with your sandwich, a spinach salad with your pasta dinner and berries with your late-night frozen yogurt snack.

2. Use healthful home-cooking techniques to help you get to or maintain a healthy weight.

Whenever you choose to cook meals at home rather than eat out, you have better control over how healthy your foods will be. Instead of frying, try stir-frying, sautéing, roasting or grilling. Experiment with flavoring foods with herbs, mustard, spices and citrus instead of added fat and salt.

3. Aim for 10-10-10.

It is recommended that we get 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week, or 30 minutes a day. But committing that time is a challenge for many busy people. Why not aim for three 10-minute bouts of activity each day, which is proven to be just as effective? Take a brisk walk before work or during a lunch break, walk in the mall or take the stairs to a meeting. Pace around your office during a conference call. It all adds up.

4. Know your numbers.

Be sure that your blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and body mass index numbers are in check. Take the time to know your numbers and what the current recommendations are for keeping your risk as low as possible. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for those who love you.

5. Shop smarter.

Commit to be a savvier consumer by checking Nutrition Facts Labels for saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Look for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark on food packaging in your favorite grocery store to identify foods that meet the criteria for being heart healthy.

Enjoy your new healthier path!

This post was written by Stacey Kendrick, MS, a health educator with more than 20 years of experience in wellness and population health. She spent much of her career at Vanderbilt’s Faculty/Staff Wellness Program and Vanderbilt Health Strategic Marketing. She is mother to two adult daughters. In her free time, she teaches healthy cooking classes, runs, gardens and enjoys backyard bonfires.

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Vanderbilt Women’s Heart Center

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the U.S., yet it often goes under-diagnosed and under-treated. Vanderbilt Health offers a specialized program tailored to women’s heart health needs, spanning from adolescence and childbirth to menopause. Women’s Heart Center experts work together to treat heart disease with the special needs of women in mind.

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