A Healthy Heart = A Happy Heart!
February is a time of year that allows us to focus on things that make our ‘heart’ feel good — the people that we hold near and dear to us, and the importance of maintaining good health. This doesn’t ONLY happen because we celebrate Valentine’s Day every February 14th (although it helps); it happens because February is recognized as American Heart Month!
Nearly one in three Americans has high blood pressure or hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Lifestyle modifications, including diet, are an important part of any plan to achieve and maintain a healthy blood pressure.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan includes two to three daily servings of dairy foods and eight to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetable, and is recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association to prevent and control high blood pressure.
Dairy foods are an integral part of DASH because they contain a trio of minerals – calcium, potassium and magnesium – that play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. It’s important to note that Americans who enjoy three servings of dairy every day have significantly higher intakes of potassium compared to those who do not. So, if you’re not meeting the three servings, remember to pour one more (glass of milk)!
Keep in mind that heart health shouldn’t be a discussion that is limited to the month of February. So, the next time you think about those you love and hold near and dear to your heart, think about the memories you share and take that next step to improve your heart health!
To learn more about American Heart Month and resources that encourage good heart health, please visit:
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HeartMonth/
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/
- National Dairy Council: http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org/EducationMaterials/HealthProfessionalsEducationKits/Pages/DASH.aspx