February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness of heart disease - the number one killer in the United States - and a disease African Americans are more susceptible to.
Nearly 44 percent of African American men and 48 percent of African-American women have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.
High blood pressure, obesity and diabetes are the most common conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The good news is simple lifestyle changes and understanding your risk can can help prevent and manage these diseases.
Consume less salt
According to the American Heart Association, you should have no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. For most adults, an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams per day is recommended. Stay away from foods that are high in sodium, such as processed foods, natural foods with a higher-than-average sodium content like cheese, seafood, olives, some legumes, table salt, sea salt, and some over-the-counter drugs. If in doubt, read the label!
Eat more heart-healthy foods
Learn what foods are heart-friendly and how to prepare them. Follow these guidelines to help you choose heart-healthy foods, as well as learn what foods to avoid.
- Read nutrition labels when buying prepared and prepackaged foods,
- Eat more fruits and vegetables,
- Eat fruit and raw vegetables as snacks,
- Select unsalted nuts or seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils,
- Select unsalted or low-sodium fat-free broths, bouillons or soup,
- Avoid using canned vegetables with added salt when making homemade dishes,
- Avoid salt during cooking. Try the food before you add salt for taste.
Aside from heart health, exercise has been proven to improve your mood, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and help manage weight.
The American Heart Association recommends 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Try to aim for a total of 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity three to four times each week.
If you have any questions about heart disease prevention or diagnosis, schedule an appointment with your care provider today.
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American Heart Association, African Americans and Heart Disease
CDC, Heart Disease Facts
Go Red for Women, Heart Disease in African American Women
American Heart Association, Shaking the Salt Habit