What are you doing to keep your聽heart healthy? February is American Heart Month, so it鈥檚 the perfect time to take a serious look at how you鈥檙e treating your ticker.聽Heart disease聽is still the number one killer of women in the US, but many aren鈥檛 aware of the聽diet mistakes聽they鈥檙e making that raise their risk of getting sick. We talked to聽Rima Kleiner, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, to get her best heart-healthy tips.

Healthy woman eating fruits for breakfast

How Can You Improve Your Diet to Help Your Heart? 聽

1. Swap out meat and poultry for seafood.聽Kleiner recommends eating seafood instead of meat two or more times per week to increase your intake of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which boost heart health. For instance,聽swap聽your beef burger聽for a salmon burger, or change your chicken聽salad into a tuna salad.

2.聽Have fruit聽for dessert six days per week.聽If you can鈥檛 ignore your sweet tooth, then have fruit as your dessert six days per week and indulge in sugary treats on the seventh. 鈥淭ry finishing dinner Mediterranean-style, with fresh or baked fruit on most nights, and save your dessert for Sunday night, or a special occasion. It will help you avoid a lot of calories, saturated fat, and added sugars,鈥 Kleiner explains.

3. Always order salad with your restaurant meal.聽Having a produce-rich salad with oil and vinegar every time you eat out can help your heart. Kleiner shares that most restaurant meals tend to be filled with sodium,聽and eating potassium-rich vegetables can help counter its negative effects. Plus, you鈥檒l get a dose of dietary fiber, which lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Are You Making These Diet Mistakes That Hurt Your heart?

1. Avoiding All Fat:聽Kleiner frequently sees people who think聽fat is bad for their hearts, so they avoid all of it 鈥 but this can be a mistake. 鈥淵ou do want to limit saturated fats and cut out trans fats, which are found in packaged or processed foods containing hydrogenated oils. But you need to eat healthy fats, like those found in salmon, avocados, and olives, for your heart. In fact, the omega-3s found in seafood are essential, meaning our bodies don鈥檛 make them, and we must get them from our diet,鈥 she shares.

2. Eating the Same Things Every Day:聽Kleiner sees many people who aren鈥檛 eating a diverse diet. They tend to consume the same things all the time and get stuck in a food rut, even if it鈥檚 healthy. 鈥淲hile I find that some people do eat vegetables, fruit, and seafood, they don鈥檛 eat enough of them, and they don鈥檛 eat a variety. They stick with one fish they know how to cook or their two favorite vegetables, but they forget or just get too busy to try new things. I find that their blood cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure go down when they add another serving or two of different vegetables and fruit each day, along with more fish per week. And they actually get excited about trying new things,鈥 she says. Eating a variety of healthy foods is important for your heart.

3. Thinking Everything Organic Is Healthy:聽Organic labels can be deceptive. Simply having this tag on a nutrition panel doesn鈥檛 make the food healthy. 鈥淚 see a lot of people who think an organic cookie, cracker, or cereal is better for them than the non-organic variety. While the organic version may contain a few more nutrients, it鈥檚 still a packaged food. You want to avoid or limit them to keep your heart healthy,鈥 Kleiner says.聽聽聽

Your diet has a big impact on your heart health. Making small changes,聽and avoiding common mistakes,聽can go a long way to help.

Tell us what you鈥檙e planning to eat for American Heart Month on Twitter @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)