Getting Heart Healthy

Seems like we hear so much these days about being heart healthy, eating heart healthy, living heart healthy. But what does it mean to be heart healthy? Well, of course it means that you’re doing whatever you can to make your heart as healthy as possible—through diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, and good healthcare. Let’s review.

Heart disease risk

Heart disease is a condition where the vessels carrying blood to the heart become blocked by plaque, a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances. This blockage prevents blood from reaching the heart. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States.

The risks for heart disease that you have little control over include your age, family history, and early menopause. Other risks, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, are treatable. And then there are some that you have complete control over, including smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.

So how can you live heart healthy?

Research shows that women can lower their heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent just by leading a healthy lifestyle. Tips include:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk products, lean meats, nuts, eggs.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, sodium, caffeine, and added sugars.
  • Increase Omega 3 fatty acids (as in fish).
  • Eat the amount of daily calories that you require.
  • Practice stress-management techniques (like meditation).
  • Work up to 30-60 minutes of physical activity on most (if not all) days.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Use alcohol in moderation—only one drink per day maximum for a woman.
  • See your healthcare provider routinely to screen for and treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Living heart healthy is a complete lifestyle. The result will be a healthier you!

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