February is American Heart Month. It’s almost Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, so I want to share ways that you can love your heart.

Trying your best to control glucose levels and reducing your cardiac risk factors can save your life. Over 65% of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke.

How can you love your heart? Below are some tips I encourage my diabetes patients to try. If you are doing some or all of these, then I congratulate you!

  • Control your diabetes with nutrition, exercise, medication (if needed), testing, relaxing, support teams and knowing your numbers.
  • Control your blood pressure by including foods with higher potassium (cantaloupe, honeydew, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes), magnesium (whole grains, nuts), higher calcium (dark green vegetables, seaweed, low-fat & low-sodium cheese, almonds, low-fat milk) and lower sodium (processed, packaged, sauces, gravies, soups, dressings, pickled foods).
  • Eat heart healthy with high fiber/wholesome foods, monounsaturated and omega 3 fats, and reduce trans and saturated fats.
  • Control weight by balancing food groups while consuming whole grains, vegetables, lean protein and healthy unsaturated fats.
  • Move! Do some activity each day.
  • Do not smoke – and try not to breathe in anyone else’s second-hand smoke.
  • Reduce stress by meditating, reading a good book, visiting with family or friends, taking a stroll, watching a funny movie, laughing and looking at the positive aspects of your life.
  • If you consume alcohol, do so only in moderation: one drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men (4 ounces wine, 12 ounces beer, 1-1 ½ ounces of liquor). Try red wine for it’s high resveratrol content. Resveratrol is a heart healthy antioxidant found in red wine and red grapes in greater concentration, blueberries, cranberries and peanuts.
  • Know your numbers: HbA1c, total cholesterol, HDL (healthy cholesterol), LDL (lousy cholesterol), triglycerides, blood pressure and weight.
  • Love your heart, love others and most of all – love yourself!