February is National Heart Health Month-Having a Healthy Heart with Dr. Myles Zuckerman, MD.

Updated on February 16, 2011

Many of us share the childhood memory of cutting out heart shapes to make cards for our classmates on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.  So it’s fitting that in the U.S. & Canada February is Heart Month. Although a person’s risk for heart disease is partly determined by factors out of our control, such as family history or gender, there are lifestyle factors that we can control, such as diet & exercise.  Of the six major risk factors for heart disease, four of them (obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, & diabetes) are affected by the food choices a person makes.

Although newspaper articles & TV segments may leave us confused, due to new and sometimes contradictory advice, there is actually a good consensus among health authorities as to what makes up a heart healthy diet.  There are a number of reliable sources of information for someone who wants to lower the risk of developing heart disease, or to treat already established disease.  The American Heart Association has a website with a link entitled “Getting Healthy” which includes practical diet information.  The Mayo Clinic’s website has a link that you can access by Googling “heart healthy diet” that spells out foods to limit & foods to choose, as well as sample diets.  The site lists eight steps to prevent heart disease, including abstinence from smoking & exercise.  It’s possible to make informed food choices & enjoy a tasty, satisfying, but healthier diet.  I hope that we can all take those steps to a healthier future.

By Myles Zuckerman, MD.

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