After a few weeks of enjoying rich meals and seasonal sweets, the new year marks a fresh start and for many, that means making some healthy changes. Whether you're looking for a little post-holiday reset or some tips to stick to for years to come, you might appreciate some guidance on how, exactly, you can make changes that are easy to stick to. Check out below article by Dietitian Victoria Seaver.
Luckily for those looking to improve their heart health, the American Heart Association (AHA) just shared a roundup of easy-to-achieve goals and resolutions that will help you take care of your ticker in the new year.
"The most important thing is to set realistic expectations and start with small changes that you can amp up over time," said American Heart Association volunteer cardiologist John A. Osborne, M.D, Ph.D.,in a press release. "And if you get off track, don't be discouraged or give up. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes time, so be kind to yourself and realize that making a new, healthy start doesn't always need to coincide with January 1."
Even if heart health isn't your top concern in the new year, you can't go wrong staying on top of your cardiovascular wellbeing. Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And a recent study found that 40% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 without a heart-disease diagnosis still had early signs of a condition called atherosclerosis that put them at a greater risk of experiencing a heart attack .You can never start taking care of your ticker too early. Read on for five ways you can stay on top of your heart health in 2022.
You don't need to tackle all of these goals at once. Look for ways to sneak some healthier options onto your plate or find ten minutes in the day to stretch your legs between meetings. Simple changes add up.
- Any fresh fruits and vegetables
- Avocados, which offer heart healthy monounsaturated fats
- Fresh herbs, like basil and cilantro
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Canned fruit in fruit juice
- No-salt-added canned vegetables or reduced-sodium options
- Beans (dried or canned with no added salt)
- Tofu & tempeh
- Nuts & seeds
- Fish, especially salmon, mackerel, and sardines, which are high in heart-healthy omega-3's
- Lean poultry
- Oats and oatmeal
- Rye & rye berries
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain bread, pasta, and crackers
- Whole-grain cereals with < 5g added sugar
- Plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt
- Plain low-fat or fat-free milk
- Unsweetened plant-based milks and yogurts
- Flavorful cheese where a little goes a long way such as Parmesan, sharp cheddar, and blue cheese.
- Low-sodium cottage cheese
- Plant-based oils, including olive, canola, avocado, and nut/seed oils Vinegar
- Spices and dried herbs
- Mayonnaise made from canola, olive, or avocado oil
- All natural nut and seed butters made without added sugar or hydrogenated oils
- Nuts & seeds (choose low-sodium and no-salt-added options)
- Bars made from dried fruit and nuts or seeds, like Larabars
- Whole-grain crackers
- Dehydrated fruit and vegetables
- Roasted chickpeas and other dried bean snacks
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Frozen whole grains, like brown rice
Whole-wheat breads and pizza dough
Bean and vegetable based vegetarian burgers (watch the sodium)
- Plain frozen fish
"Balance food and calorie intake with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight," the AHA recommends. As long as you find a version of exercise that you enjoy, it doesn't matter what it is—though research suggests that both strength training and high-intensity interval training are both perfect ways to protect your heart. Going for an afternoon walk have plenty of benefits too, so those who prefer something low-impact are in good shape.4. Give yourself a break.
Stress can be tough on the heart. Whether you have a pet whose presence helps you relax or a walking path that helps you clear your head, giving yourself time to enjoy the things that relax you can make a big difference. Try meditation if you're looking for a calming activity to add to your routine.
You don't have to meal prep every week if that's not your style—but you should think about meals and snacks ahead of time if you want to set yourself up for success, the AHA says. When you're making your next big grocery list, think about adding heart-healthy items like anti-inflammatory foods and whole grains to your cart. Or, if you'd like to start meal planning for the week but need some inspiration, look to simple ideas.
You don't have to center healthy changes around a new year's resolution this year. Instead, focus on simple, manageable goals that you can take on day by day. Adding heart-healthy ingredients to your meals and taking care of yourself the best you can are both simple, effective ways to stay healthy in the new year.