How is your heart doing today? Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.  One in every four deaths is due to heart disease and every year there are about 935,000 heart attacks in America.  But have no fear; heart disease is preventable in most cases.  Choices you make every day affect the health of your heart. Making healthy choices to prevent heart disease can be easier and tastier than you think

1. Drink more water: Water helps you cut calories by making you feel full so you eat less.  If you substitute water for sugary drinks, you can reduce your calorie intake dramatically.  Soda and juices can cause of obesity in both adults and children; water on the other had is calorie free.  On top of costing nothing, water helps prevent heart disease through shedding the extra pounds.  Now that is a win-win.

2. Reduce Salt: Salt contributes to high blood pressure which can lead to stokes and heart attacks.  The simplest way to cut salt is to eat less processed foods and add less salt while cooking and eating.  For a couple days you will notice a difference in taste, but once you get accustomed to less salt you will wonder how you ever ate so much before.

3. Eat your greens: Fruits and vegetables provide valuable potassium which is crucial to heart health.  Potassium reduces blood pressure, helps your heart pump properly and helps prevent heart failure.  Fruits and vegetables also aid in reducing cholesterol because the fiber in them binds to cholesterol in the intestine then leaves the body.  Going green does not have to be expensive. Buy fruit and vegetables in season; they are cheaper, bursting with taste and have the most vitamins and minerals.  Dried beans serve as an inexpensive source of fiber, protein and iron.  Kids love tangerines, grapes and berries and they nice for outings with the family and road trips.

4. Choose whole grains and oatmeal: Studies show eating whole grains, particularly oatmeal, help reduce cholesterol and induce weight loss.  Both properties play an important role preserving the health of your heart.  Making the switch is easy and high fiber content will make you feel full for awhile, so you will eat less.  Use 100% whole wheat bread for sandwiches; switch to brown rice and buy cereals that contain oatmeal, granola and bran.  In these cold winter months a warm oatmeal breakfast with a side of fruit makes breakfast a meal to look forward to.

5. Get Moving: Research shows exercise plays a vital role in heart health, but it also revealed anything is better than nothing.  You do not need to do P90X to reap the health healthy benefits of exercise.  A 30 minute walk three times a week can make all the difference. Take a stroll around your local mall, do some Zumba in the privacy of your living room, enjoy an evening walk around the neighborhood with the whole family.  Exercise does not have to be at the gym; there are numerous free, fun ways to get moving. A little movement makes a big difference.

These small changes will benefit the health of your entire family.  Choose a few goals and make the change slowly.  We get set in our ways and big changes become difficult.  Baby steps are the key for success and take it day-by-day. For instance, start by adding more water and cut out one sugary drink a day for a week.  Next week substitute water for two sugary drinks.  Do not feel bad if you do not fulfill your goals once in awhile, tomorrow is another day and you will do better.  Every good day is a little victory, enjoy it.

Remember February 1st is Nation Wear Red day to spread awareness about heart disease and February is Nation Go Red Month. Talk to your friends, family and coworkers about the risks of heart disease and how easily it can be prevented.  Get involved and spread the word, you may save a life.