How Can I Take Better Care of My Heart? Ask A Nutritionist. February 8, 2022

Time to take care of that ticker! When we take care of our hearts as part of our self-care, we set an example for others to do the same. Here are a few ways to take care of your heart and the heart of your loved ones.
  • Try and get five fruits and vegetables each day. Portion sizes are usually about one-half a cup or one small piece of fruit. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh. Eat a variety of colorful veggies and fruits. 
  • Manage stress as best you can. Long term stress can be harmful to your heart. There are ways to manage stress.  Download an app that provides relaxation exercises, stick to a sleep routine, write down your feelings, talk to a friend or family member you can trust and help you cope in a positive way, and get some exercise. If you are struggling and need more help, talk to a professional.
  • Get some routine physical activity. Pick an activity you enjoy, such as walking your dog or dancing with your grandkids. Start slow and gradually work up to 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Break it down to 10 minutes at a time if needed. Get up and walk around the room during TV breaks or while on the phone. 
  • Manage your blood pressure! Select foods with less salt or sodium. Read the labels and pick the foods with less sodium.
  • Find an eating plan that will keep your heart healthy and help you stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese puts stress on your heart. The Mediterranean Diet Eating Plan and the Dash Diet Eating Plan can help you achieve your weight goal. Talk to your nutritionist to find an eating plan that works for you. 

Last but not least, if you are a smoker, consider quitting! It’s one of the most important ways to take care of your heart. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free help and counseling.

Remember, progress, not perfection, leads to a healthy heart. Start taking some steps today!

Joanne M. Gallivan, M.S., R.D.N. is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She served as the Director of the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in the Office of Communication and Public Liaison for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1997-2016.  Previously, Ms. Gallivan has served as project manager for NIDDK’s Weight-Control Information Network (WIN), a national source of information on weight control, obesity, and weight-related nutritional disorders for health professionals and the public; as Contract Manager for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National Cholesterol Education Program and Obesity Education Initiative, and as Director of the Prince George’s County Health Department Nutrition Division located in Maryland.

Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to uninsured adults. The Free Clinic serves adults with no health insurance living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can sign up for our monthly e-news updates, or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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