Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. But the good news is many of these deaths and risk factors are preventable.
While age, gender and family history cannot be controlled, you can help prevent and control high cholesterol, high blood pressure, excess weight and obesity with lifestyle changes, physical activity and healthful eating.
Healthy food choices and an active lifestyle can have a big impact on your heart's health. Just a few steps and you can be on your way to a healthier heart:
- Regular, moderate physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Be physically active in your own way. Start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Always check with your physician before beginning a workout regimen.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. One good goal is to fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables every meal.
- Eat less salt by preparing foods at home so you can control the amount of salt in your meals. As you prepare meals, use as little salt as possible. You can cut at least half the salt from most recipes. As you shop, select reduced-sodium or no-salt-added canned soups and vegetables.
- Eat whole grains. Not only do they provide vitamins and minerals, but whole grains also contain dietary fiber, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other health complications.
- Regularly eat fatty fish including salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna (in water, if canned), mackerel and sardines.
- Eat fewer foods with saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains.
Talk to your doctor to find out if you are at high risk for heart disease. If you need help with healthful eating, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist who can build a nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle and needs.