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February is Heart Month, which means its a great time to think about your cardiovascular health. In this video, Richmond health coach Lindsey Patton offers four tips to help make sure your diet is a heart-healthy one. Watch the video below and read on for a recap.

Tip No. 1: Control your portions. 

First things first. No matter what food you're eating, it's important to have controlled portions. The larger the portions we have, the more we are at risk for gaining weight, causing obesity, and being more at risk for inflammation in the body and developing heart disease. So first and foremost, no matter what you're eating, make sure you measure and monitor your portion sizes.

A great tip is stopping to eat when you're full. It takes some practice. So get used to smaller portions if you know that that might be a challenge currently.

Tip No. 2: Cut out sugary drinks. 

Number two is to reduce your, or actually, totally cut out sugary drinks. There's no nutritional benefit here. You're not getting any fiber. You're getting tons of sugar without any nutritional benefit. So sticking to unsweetened teas, you can have plenty of water. Water is great for you. Maybe aim for half of your weight in ounces every day of water. So staying hydrated, but opting to totally cut out sugary drinks is a great start where you can reduce the calories in your diet and also lessen the chances for obesity and heart disease.

Tip No. 3: Reduce processed (and fried) food intake. 

And third is processed foods. We'll put that in the same category, too, as fried foods. If it's coming out of a box , it's not made from the ground. They have to add things to it to preserve it and keep it on the shelves longer. So the longer the shelf life, usually the more preservatives.

The most common preservatives you see in food are salt and sugar. They're cheap ways to preserve the foods. They also make them taste better so we're more likely to eat more of those foods. So opt for whole real foods.

Leafy green vegetables are great for you. Really any vegetable, especially if it grows above the ground. So the above-ground vegetables are going to be a lot fewer carbohydrates.

A way to remember the difference between a fruit or vegetable that grows above the ground or below the ground...The ones below the ground are higher in starch and you have to cook it to bite into it. So if you're like, I don't really know where this vegetable is grown, just use that as a tip. No one's going to go pick up an unbaked potato and take a bite out of it like an apple. You have to cook it to eat it. It just changes the chemistry of it and it's higher carbohydrates in those types of vegetables.

Ideally also your vegetable content is higher than your fruits. Fruits and vegetables are both good for you, but vegetables going to have lower carbohydrates, which in turn is going to help to manage your hunger and your weight as well.

Tip No. 4: Keep an eye on your sodium intake. 

And then one other other food to really, or type of thing you could have in your food, is sodium content. Foods high in sodium are going to make us bloat, retain water, and make our blood vessels pump harder and put more strain on our heart.

Be conscious of foods that, especially Asian foods that have a lot of soy sauce. One packet of soy sauce is like 230 milligrams. If you're monitoring your sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams per day is just general guidance.

But if you have high blood pressure, they actually recommend less than 1,500 milligrams. Most Americans eat around 3,000 milligrams of sodium, so you don't necessarily have to add a lot of salt to your food to have high sodium in your diet.