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Self-care is a growing trend, as more and more of us are beginning to realize how important it is to take care of our emotional hearts. However, true self-care means also caring for our physical well-being, including our anatomical hearts. February is American Heart Month, which is a good reminder that taking care of your heart can be as simple as 1, 2, 3.
We all know exercise is good for your heart, but do you know why? Lots of reasons! Aerobic exercise – such as running, biking, skating, playing tennis, or swimming – strengthens the heart muscle so it doesn’t need to beat as fast, allowing it to deliver blood more efficiently to your whole body. It also lowers your LDL (bad) cholesterol, helping keep your arteries clear, and decreases your risk of conditions associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
What’s the secret to sticking to an exercise routine? Choosing something you actually like to do! I can attest to this advice from personal experience. About a decade ago, I tried to force myself to run every day, even though there are few things I dislike more than running. Guess how that worked out? Not too great. But then I discovered tennis and fell in love. I began playing 5-6 times a week, and it turns out, I’m fine with running if there is a ball involved.
On days when 10 minutes is all you have, here’s a routine you can do wherever.
When it comes to heart health, what you put in your body is almost as important as how much you move it. When you fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, you also fill it with vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients and fiber, all of which benefit your cardiovascular health.
More heart-friendly foods?
- Beans and oatmeal are another source of soluble fiber, the kind of fiber that lowers LDL cholesterol.
- Red grapes contain resveratrol, which keep platelets in your blood from sticking together.
- Olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados all supply your body with healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Dark chocolate has flavanols, which can help lower blood pressure and have antioxidant power. (Choose 70% and don’t go overboard!)
- Salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, and flaxseeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, which improve blood flow and help maintain triglycerides within normal limits.
Here’s a menu for a heart-healthy day:
- Breakfast: Start the day with a bowl of oatmeal, a handful of nuts and your favorite fruit. I like apples or bananas in the winter and berries in the summer. For extra nutrition, you can mix in a scoop of Complete by Juice Plus+ once the oatmeal has finished cooking.
- Lunch: This lunch salad has a fun, healthy twist: the croutons are made of tofu!
- Snack: Roasted chickpeas make a tempting mid-afternoon snack. Pair with an apple for even more fiber.
- Dinner: Colorful roasted vegetables make filling half your plate with vegetables easy. Serve with a salmon filet and your dinner is ready, complete with omega-3s.
Speaking of omega-3s, Juice Plus+ Omega Blend capsules make getting your omega-3s a snap on days when you don’t get enough from your diet. This plant-based combination of omega-3, 5, 6, 7, and 9 fatty acids is derived from fruits, algae and seed oils, so it’s vegetarian, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.
What steps do you take to protect your heart? Share in the comments below!
 What aerobic exercise does for your health. Mayo Clinic. 2017 Feb 27. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541?pg=2
 Jennings K. Top 11 heart-healthy foods. WedMD. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/11-top-heart-healthy-foods#1