Here are six heart disease prevention tips to get you started.
1. Take advantage of any opportunity for exercise.
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator at school
or the mall. Just start with one flight. Soon, you'll be ready for two.
- Park your car at the far end of the parking lot. The short walk to and from the store or school helps your heart.
- If you ride a bus or subway, get off a stop before your destination. Walk the rest of the way.
- If you can, spend a few minutes of your lunch break taking a
stroll around the campus grounds. It should help you stay awake after
- Think of housework as an extra chance to exercise. Vacuuming briskly can be a real workout. Mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and raking leaves are chores that can be done yourself as a chance to exercise.
- If you have a dog, think of the dog as an exercise machine
with fur. A brisk walk with the dog is good for both of your hearts.
Make it a part of your daily routine.
- If you have a family, schedule an after-dinner walk. Make it quality time.
2. Eat a heart-healthy diet
Eat foods that are low in fat, cholesterol and salt. A diet
is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products can help protect your heart.
Limiting certain fats you eat also is important. Of the types of fat
saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat saturated
fat and trans fat increase the risk of coronary artery disease by
raising blood cholesterol levels.
Major sources of saturated fat include:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Coconut and palm oils
Sources of trans fat include:
- Deep-fried fast foods
- Bakery products
- Packaged snack foods
Avoid trans fats, which also
increase LDL cholesterol, by skipping foods that contain "hydrogenated
oil" or "partially hydrogenated oil" in their ingredient lists. (Big
culprits include packaged snacks, crackers, bakery goods and some
Other ways to reduce saturated fat: replace butter with olive and canola
oils, which contain good amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish and beans instead of higher-fat meats. Select nonfat or low-fat milk and yogurt in place of whole-milk
versions; eat full-fat cheeses sparingly.
Heart-healthy eating isn't all about cutting back, though. Most people
need to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet with a goal of
five to 10 servings a day. Eating that many fruits and vegetables can
not only help prevent heart disease, but also may help prevent cancer.
Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, may decrease your
risk of heart attack, protect against irregular heartbeats and lower
blood pressure. Some fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are a good
natural source of omega-3s. Omega-3s are present in smaller amounts in
flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil and canola oil, and they can also
be found in supplements.
Following a heart-healthy diet also means drinking alcohol only in
moderation no more than two drinks a day for men, and one a day for
women. At that moderate level, alcohol can have a protective effect on
your heart. More than that becomes a health hazard.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
As you put on weight in adulthood, your weight gain is mostly fat rather
than muscle. This excess weight can lead to conditions that increase
your chances of heart disease high blood pressure, high cholesterol
and diabetes. Even a small weight loss can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by just
10 percent can decrease your blood pressure, lower your blood
cholesterol level and reduce your risk of diabetes.
4. Get regular health screenings
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your heart and blood
vessels. But without testing for them, you probably won't know whether
you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your
numbers are and whether you need to take action.
- Blood pressure. Regular blood pressure screenings
start in childhood. Adults should have their blood pressure checked at
least every two years. You may need more-frequent checks if your numbers
aren't ideal or if you have other risk factors for heart disease.
Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80
- Cholesterol levels. Adults should have their
cholesterol measured at least once every five years starting at age 20.
You may need more frequent testing if your numbers aren't optimal or if
you have other risk factors for heart disease.
- Diabetes screening. Since diabetes is a risk factor
for developing heart disease, you may want to consider being screened
for diabetes. Talk to your doctor about when you should have a fasting
blood sugar test to check for diabetes. Depending on your risk factors,
such as being overweight or a family history of diabetes, your doctor
may recommend first testing you for diabetes sometime between ages 30
and 45, and then retesting every three to five years.
5. Eat At Least 25 Grams Of Fiber Daily
Studies link a high-fiber diet with a lower risk of heart disease.
Unfortunately, the average American only gets about 14 grams per day.
Soluble fiber in oats, beans and citrus fruits, such as oranges, helps
reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. Opting for whole grains, such as
brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, boosts your intake of total fiber (by
way of insoluble fiber, which is also good for digestion) and can
decrease levels of triglycerides, another "unhealthy" fat in the blood.
6. Don't smoke or use tobacco
Smoking or using tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for
developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart
and blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries
(atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart
attack. When it comes to heart disease prevention, no amount of smoking
is safe. Smokeless tobacco and low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes also
are risky, as is exposure to secondhand smoke.
Try these Natural Heart Health Remedies
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug