CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. One in two men and one in three women are at risk for heart disease and poor lifestyle is a major contributor.
The American Heart Association designated November 6 as National Eating Healthy Day.
The day is devoted to picking up new healthy habits with the hope that small changes made in one day, will be a step towards a lifetime of good health.
One tip from the American Heart Association is to cook at home so you know exactly what is going into your meal.
Americans get 77 percent of their sodium from processed foods. Eating more natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, is one way to cut back on sodium.
The average American eats less than two servings of fruits and vegetables a day and should eat at least five, according to CCU Health Promotion Professor Dr. Sharon Thompson.
"They provide really low calories and minerals and phytochemicals which are heart disease and cancer fighters," she says.
The American Heart Association says recognizing good and bad fats is key. For example, choose canola oil or olive oil instead of butter. All heart healthy fats should be used in moderation remembering one teaspoon is one serving.
Planning ahead is key to being aware of ingredients and portion sizes, as well as saving money.
One way to improve health, for free, is to drink more water. "The main thing is, make sure you're well hydrated. Sometimes when we're thirsty we mistake that for hunger," says Thompson.
Healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand towards a healthy lifestyle.
"Physical activity actually helps to reduce the appetite," says Thompson. "Just making sure that you do have breakfast every morning, having fruits and vegetables, including whole grains in your diet and really trying to reduce white breads, white rice, things like that."
You can register for National Eating Healthy Day online and receive free tools to share in your workplace here: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/National-Eating-Healthy-Day_UCM_428941_Article.jsp