Chances are, you or someone you know is dealing with ailments that contribute to heart disease, such as being overweight, having high cholesterol or being inactive. Fortunately, making just a few lifestyle changes can significantly reduce your risk.

Eat Wisely
This doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite foods, just make a few modifications. For instance, instead of grabbing a handful of potato chips, try substituting Georgia Pecans, which will help keep you full in between meals.

Exercise
While eating healthy is important, exercising for just 30 minutes a day can also greatly reduce your chances of having heart disease. Studies show that for every hour of walking, you increase you life expectancy by two years. So, simply walking in your neighborhood or taking a lunchtime stroll is effective.

Lower Cholesterol
What you eat can also raise or lower cholesterol levels. Including one-and-a-half ounces of pecans daily as part of a heart-healthy diet may reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease. Researchers at Loma Linda University and New Mexico State University have found that levels of the so-called “bad” cholesterol (LDL) drop when pecans are part of a daily diet. That’s because pecans contain beta-sitosterol, a natural cholesterol-lowering compound. The American Heart Association has also certified Georgia Pecans (halves and pieces) as a Heart Check-mark food for its contribution to an overall heart-healthy diet*.

Newly released research from Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital University also shows that people who eat one ounce of nuts, including pecans, seven days a week had a 20% lower chance of dying from a variety of causes – including heart disease, stroke, respiratory illness and cancer.

Georgia Pecans are also an excellent source of antioxidants. With the highest amount of antioxidants of any other tree nut, Georgia Pecans have earned the title, “The AntioxiNUT.” The antioxidant compounds found naturally in pecans - including vitamin E, ellagic acid and flavonoids, - may help prevent disease-causing oxidation in cells that have been linked to a host of ailments, including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Banish Stress
Stress may contribute to a multitude of ailments, from headaches to overeating. Overtime, chronic stress weakens the immune system and may even damage artery walls in the heart. While the connection between stress, high blood pressure and heart disease isn’t entirely understood, managing stress is important.

By making healthy food choices, adding Georgia Pecans to your diet and taking a few minutes to exercise and banishing stress, the month of February can be the start of a whole new you.

 

* Please note that the Heart-Check Food Certification does not apply to recipes, scientific research by an organization other than the AHA, and links to other information unless expressly stated.  For more information, see the AHA nutrition guidelines at: heartcheckmark.org/guidelines.

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