Southern Illinois University Carbondale

SIU Logo

Heart Healthy Tips

It’s that time of year again: Love is in the air, pink decorations abound, and Cupid is shooting everyone with his arrows. One of the biggest decorations of Valentine’s Day is the heart. This month, it’s important to remember not only candy hearts with cute messages but also the heart beating in your chest. With these quick tips, you can make sure your conversation heart is saying “Call Me!” instead of “Call 911!”

  1. Watch your portion sizes! You can have your cake and eat it too, but just make sure you watch exactly how much you’re eating. Don’t deny your cravings for things; instead, have just a bite. Craving potato chips? Portion them out into a small bowl or plate and only eat in the kitchen. This will prevent you from mindlessly eating out of the bag in front of your favorite TV show. For more information on portion sizes, check out our “The Truth About Serving Sizes and Portions” post!
  2. Reduce the sodium in your diet! By swapping certain items like chicken stock out for low-sodium versions, you’ll save your heart extra work. Sodium increases blood pressure, which makes it more likely that you’ll be plagued with heart disease. Watch how much salt you put on food. Be sure to taste your food first before you shake half a bottle of salt over the top. Also be careful of the sneaky sodium found in processed foods. Canned soups are notorious for containing sky-high amounts of sodium, so be sure to read labels. A healthy amount of sodium is 2,300 mg per day.
  3. Choose healthier foods! Adding whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables to your diet will help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. Follow the MyPlate guidelines for making a healthy plate: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, add a lean protein and whole grains, and finish with a glass of milk or side of other low-fat dairy.
  4. Exercise is key! By exercising, you strengthen your heart. Since it is a muscle, after all, it needs to be worked out just like your biceps and quads! Doing cardio workouts like running, walking, biking, swimming, or dancing will help improve your heart health. Consider taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to class, or dancing around the house for a few minutes to increase your heart health.

These easy tips should make it easier for you to tune up your heart so that it’s in the best shape for Cupid this Valentine’s Day!

Peace, Love, and Heart Health, Salukis!

Your University Housing Nutrition Team
Residence Hall Dining

Emily Feagans
Dietetics Graduate Assistant

Cecily Haase
Undergraduate Nutrition Intern