How to stay heart healthy during the holidays

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‘Tis the season to bond with family and friends over a delicious spread. While dining on the fall-inspired dishes, you can easily lose sight of your heart-healthy routine.

But being healthy over the holidays doesn’t mean giving up your favorite things. In fact, the American Heart Association wants you to commemorate the festive occasion without putting your healthy habits on hold.

Healthy tips for the season
You can be the best you by eating smart, moving more and making your well-being a priority this time of year. The approach is simple: Eat smart. Add color. Move more. Be well.

Celebrate and make healthy choices following these simple tips:

• Make smart substitutions. Look for healthy swaps to add a nutrition boost to traditional fall-inspired recipes. Try seasonal produce like pumpkin, squash and broccoli.

• Eat the colors of the rainbow. Add color to your meals with tasty fruits and vegetables and aim for four to five servings of each per day. Remember, eating a healthy diet is important for managing your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

• Don’t overindulge. Enjoy seasonal treats and sweets without overdoing it. Moderation is essential and balance is key. For example, if you’re going to miss your workout for an evening dinner, walk during the day or ride your bike.

• Move more. According to reports, only 26% of men and 19% of women get enough activity to meet the physical activity recommendations. Physical activity leads to better brain health, sleep, memory and overall quality of life so it’s important to become more active. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which could include brisk walking or fast dancing, each week.

• Be well. In addition to eating right and moving more, optimal health requires getting adequate sleep, managing stress, connecting socially, and practicing mindfulness.

If you don’t neglect your healthy habits, you won’t feel like you have to start all over once the holiday season is over. For more information and resources that will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, visit heart.org.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Iva Smolens is a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon and graduate from the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine. She is also an American Heart Association volunteer and is committed to spreading awareness about heart health and fundraising initiatives, such as the annual Phoenix Heart Ball, which raises funds and awareness for vital local community programs, professional education and research that benefits the American Heart Association. Over the past six decades, the event has raised more than $37 million. Visit phoenixheartball.heart.org.

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