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Show your heart you care during American Heart Month

In addition to showing love to your valentine this February, consider giving your heart a little loving. February is American Heart Month, a time to honor this vital organ. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of the three risk factors for heart disease, which are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are five ways to get started showing your heart that you care.

Go fishing for new flavors

As you ponder what to have for dinner, consider a seafood adventure. Fish is one of the healthiest gifts you can give your heart since it is loaded with protein, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which help your body and brain. Try starting with milder fish like salmon, flounder or tilapia. Pair the fish with flavors you love, like curry or herbs. Substitute fish into favorite recipes like stew or tacos. Work toward a goal of having fish twice a week to help your heart.

Treat yourself with wine or chocolate

Did you know chocolate and wine can be good for your heart? (Image licensed by Shutterstock)

There are some caveats to enjoying wine and chocolate, but these yummy treats aren’t all bad. A glass of red wine has antioxidants that protect against cholesterol buildup. The key is moderation. One daily five-ounce serving of red wine is the limit for most adults.

Chocolate is another treat that can be enjoyed in moderation. Foods derived from the cocoa bean have been shown to reduce heart attacks and heart failure. Dark chocolate is preferred since it has a higher cocoa content. The tricky part is avoiding chocolate that is paired with high sugar and saturated fat. Try to satisfy your sweet tooth a few times a week with a one ounce serving of the darkest chocolate you enjoy.

Set a goal to eat a rainbow

Eating a variety of fresh produce can help you get a wide range of vitamins and minerals. (Image licensed by Shutterstock)

Try adding color to your meals. Surround your pork chop with green broccoli and orange carrot slices. Upgrade your sandwich lunch by adding red apple slices and green grapes to the plate. Start by adding one colorful fruit or vegetable to each meal and expand to two or three. Set a goal of eating four to five cups of fruits and vegetables daily to show your heart you care.

Smile more

Being under stress can raise blood pressure, increase cholesterol levels and cause digestion issues, which are not heart-friendly. Since everyone reacts to stress differently, you need to come up with your own relief method. Breathing deeply, taking a short walk, listening to music or practicing meditation are just some of the many strategies. Dedicate time each day to doing things that bring you joy, like visiting with friends or reading. Do your best to find a way to smile every day.

Find something fun to do

A fun activity that keeps you moving can boost your heart health. (Image licensed by Shutterstock)

We all know that exercise is good for the heart and just about every other part of the body. Exercise can take many forms beyond those jumping jacks from gym class. Find an activity you can regularly enjoy. If you don’t like an activity, you most likely won’t continue it, so look for something fun and get moving. In-person group activities like dance lessons or yoga might not be available right now. As an alternative, try an online class or simply go on a daily walk.

When life gets complicated

Despite all good intentions, medical issues can arise — from a needed joint replacement surgery to an unexpected medical complication requiring hospitalization. These types of events can put strain on your heart health. Choosing to recover in a short-term care facility is a wise choice since attentive staff can help move you safely and quickly on a path back to the lifestyle you desire. One of the most widely respected choices for this level of care is Whitehall of Deerfield, where excellent care is provided in an elegant atmosphere.

Whitehall of Deerfield has consistently received the highest rating in Medicare’s five-star rating system of nursing and post-hospital rehabilitation centers. Whitehall of Deerfield is also ranked among the top 1% of all Illinois post-hospital rehabilitation and nursing care centers by Newsweek — and has consistently received both U.S. News & World Report’s “Top Performing” ratingWhat ’s more, Medicare usually covers your short-term, post-hospital stay at Whitehall of Deerfield. Learn more about the individualized, one-on-one therapy programs, world-class amenities and COVID-19 safety measures by visiting WhitehallofDeerfield.com or calling 847-945-4600.

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600