HEART-HEALTHY HOLIDAY IDEAS
Updated: Feb 25
The holidays are the time of year to reflect on all the joys in our lives. Friends, family, prosperity, and good health are all things to celebrate. Don’t just take your blessings for granted. The holidays may be all about the fun, but you don’t have to let your health slide. You can help keep your health in tip-top shape by following just a few simple guidelines over the holidays.
MOVEMENT IS LIFE
The holiday season coincides with cold temperatures rolling in, leading most of us to want to curl up under some blankets by the fireplace. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in some relaxation—that’s one of the perks of the season, after all—but just remember to log some activity in your day. The blustery temps may keep you from taking your fitness routine outdoors, but there are still lots of winter-appropriate exercises that won’t leave you shivering in the cold.
Exercise is an important part of keeping your cardiovascular system healthy. A weekly workout of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity will keep your heart in good working condition. Whether it's a shopping trip to the mall for holiday shopping, a day of skiing in the mountains or just a stroll around the block - all help to improve blood circulation. As a general rule, always try to burn off as many calories as you consume.
TREAT YOURSELF, WITHIN REASON
Yes, it can be hard to resist all the holiday goodies beckoning you at every turn. But there are still delicious things to be eaten that won’t put too much stress on your heart.
A heart-healthy diet is based on nutrient-rich foods that are low in calories and high in fiber. When planning your meals, stock up on these food groups:
Whole Grains: A good way to control your blood pressure is to eat whole grains. Instead of white bread, pick whole-grain or whole-wheat bread. High-fiber cereals, whole-grain pasta, oatmeal, and grains such as barley and brown rice are excellent choices to enhance your cardiovascular health.
Fruits and Vegetables: Like whole grains, fruits and vegetables provide the dietary fiber you need to control your blood pressure. Plus, they’re rich in vitamins and minerals. Rather than reaching for a bag of chips, snack on fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
Low-Fat Protein: Being on a heart-healthy diet doesn’t necessarily mean giving up meat. Lean meat and poultry are better choices than fatty meats and cured meats like bacon. Or, in place of meat, cook up a meal of salmon or mackerel. These types of fish are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower blood fats. Legumes — beans, peas, and lentils — can be substituted for meat, as well. These foods are not only high in protein, but they’re also low in fat and contain no cholesterol.
Healthier treats can be just as decadent as their higher-fat cousins. Bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate as well as whole wheat flour and low-fat sour cream and milk cut the sugar content. They are so rich you won’t even notice!
In addition, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat. In that regard, reduce your portion sizes so you’re not taking in too many calories. For example, a serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be no more than three ounces, or the size of a deck of cards.
As festive as the holidays are, they can bring about some additional stress. In fact, heart attacks peak day after Thanksgiving, on Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s important not to get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Remember that this time of year is about celebrating blessings, not running around stressing over gifts. Giving is all part of the fun, but don’t let it get you overwhelmed.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday season spending time with your loved ones. To ensure your heart is in its best health this winter, visit Advanced Heart & Vein Center.