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Be Heart Smart this Holiday Season

December 6, 2011

The holiday season is full of enjoyable things that can be a bit overwhelming to prepare for. From shopping and cooking to decorating and hosting company, there’s plenty of stress to go round. Don’t let it raise your pressure – blood pressure that is!

With an estimated one in four American adults suffering from high blood pressure, it’s well worth your time to step back and think about your heart as you prepare your home for the holidays.

Three Tips for Holiday (and Everyday) Heart Health

  1. Say no to extra salt. High salt intake is the greatest cause of high blood pressure, but it’s easy to address. Just look at the numbers! Highly processed foods, take out and fast food, and even items that don’t taste salty (such as salad dressing and soda) can often bump your sodium intake well past the daily regimen by lunch time. Be kind to your heart: Read some labels, cook from home, and go easy on the salt shaker.
  2. Keep your holiday indulgence in check. Rich holiday meals, extra desserts, and holiday cocktails can increase blood pressure and lead to weight gain – both of which make your heart’s job harder. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself, but pace yourself at the same time. Savoring holiday treats slowly will help you appreciate them more, and will slow down your intake.
  3. Remember to relax. Don’t just relax – go to bed! It’s all too easy to skimp on sleep with so much ‘stuff’ to do before the holidays. But skimping will have a noticeable impact on your mental and physical well-being, weakening your immune system as well as your mental resilience to deal with the seasonal bustle. Make sure to get your full eight hours of sleep each night. It’s more than worth it.

Keep your heart in mind during the next month. With so much to do, adjusting your choices using the three tips above will end up helping more than just your heart: it’ll help you maintain health and balance, so you can focus on the parts of the season that really matter most.

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