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To mark Heart Health Month, many wore crimson gowns on National Wear Red Day and ate flavonol-rich chocolate on Valentine’s Day throughout February. The basics of a heart-healthy lifestyle are well-known: eat lots of fruits and vegetables, aim for enough dietary fiber intake, exercise regularly, quit smoking if you smoke, moderate alcohol consumption, and keep a healthy body weight. Understanding, on the other hand, does not always imply action. If you know someone who needs some encouragement to start living a healthy lifestyle, now is the time to sit down with them and remind them of what they need to do and why. It may be your husband who needs a little more encouragement to exercise a few times a week, or the mother of one of your children’s best friends who isn’t looking after herself and needs to set a better example for her children. To these wonderful recommendations for how to start the conversation, I’d add my recommendation to be prepared with actual and practical modifications your loved one can do for improved heart health. Remember that these changes don’t happen overnight, and you’ll have to put in some effort to get there. Small changes like reducing portion sizes, adding one additional vegetable serving to the lunch plate, and gradually increasing fiber intake throughout the day are recommended.

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