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10 Tips for a Healthier Heart

Heart health is a hot topic but one many people don’t do much about.  The typical person may have a routine cholesterol screening once a year and if the numbers are high, will find themselves on one or more medications.

But what can you do to reduce your risk of a heart attack and potentially eliminate the need for medication in the first place?  Here are ten tips to improve your heart health, and they may even lead to weight loss and increased energy.

Y Quit Smoking

If you are a smoker, quit.  It is that simple.  It is the single best thing you can do for your heart health.

Smoking is one the main causes of coronary heart disease.  After only one year after giving up smoking, your risk of a heart attack is decreased by almost half!

Most medical insurance plans have smoking cessation drugs available at no cost to you

Y Get Active

Getting and staying active can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Try to get in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 times a week.  Fit it in where you can, biking to work, taking a walk at lunch or walking your dog at night.

Y Manage Your Weight

Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease.  Stick to a healthy, balanced diet.  Avoid sugar, processed foods and saturated fats.

Eat your vegetables!  Make sure every meal contains a variety of colorful, non-processed veggies.  A handful of spinach is an excellent addition to your morning smoothie!

Y Cut Down on Saturated Fat

Eating too many foods that are high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.

Don’t cut out all fat!  Healthy fats are a source of essential fatty acids, which the body can’t make itself.

Get your healthy fats in foods such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and oily fishes such as salmon.

Y Eat More Fiber

Eat plenty of fiber to help lower your risk of heart disease.

You should not have any trouble hitting the goal of 30 grams a day if you are eating your fruits and vegetables.

Y Get Your Five a Day

Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.  Realistically, this should be no more than 2 portions of fruit and at least 3 portions of vegetables.

Fruit is high in sugar, granted it is a natural source of sugar, but too much can lead to weight gain.

Y Cut Down on Salt

To maintain healthy blood pressure, watch your sodium intake.  Adults should eat less than 6 grams of salt a day, that’s about one teaspoon.

Processed foods tend to be very high in sodium, so check your labels!

Try to purchase ingredients without salt and then add salt when cooking or to taste, you will end up with a much lower overall intake.

Y Eat Fish

Try to eat fish at least twice a week, including a portion of oily fish.

Fish such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, and salmon are an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.

Pregnant women may have restrictions regarding fish – consult with your physician before consuming

Y Drink Less Alcohol

It is easy to forget that alcohol contains calories since you are eating it.

Drinking too much can impact your weight and since alcohol converts to sugar in your body, this weight will tend to settle in your belly area.  Belly fat is one of the leading indicators of heart health risk.

Y Read the Label

It is shocking to see how many calories, fat, salt and sugar are in many products we take for granted.

Read every label – including your condiments.  Ketchup, mayonnaise, barbeque sauce are often hidden sources of sugar and salt and completely unnecessary.

If you have read this entire article, you will see that there is a common theme – make good food choices and get regular physical activity.  We all have the time and resources to take these steps to a healthier heart!