Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle

Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle

Everyone knows at least one person who suffers from some form of heart disease. Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and high cholesterol are all too common. Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of developing heart disease. With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the United States, it is important for you to know the facts and what you can do to lower your risk, click here.

You are What You Eat

You are What You Eat

If you eat fattening foods with high sugar and high sodium content, you will likely develop heart disease. Over time, these types of food cause bad cholesterol to build up along the artery walls, resulting in high blood pressure. Since high blood pressure can damage blood vessels, this increases the amount of bad cholesterol build up on the artery walls. This build up will continue unless you do something about it.

You can slow cholesterol build up and lower your risk of heart disease by incorporating some tried and true changes to your diet. Start by taking the basic advice you read from any medical or health publication. Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are highly nutritious and low in calories. Also, increasing these foods will increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Increased fiber helps lower cholesterol and can make you feel full for a longer period of time.

Monitor the animal products you eat. To reduce your risk of heart disease, replace fatty meat with lean meat and poultry. Be sure to remove the skin and trim any remaining fat. Replace whole dairy products with their low fat versions. Increase the consumption of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, and herring. Omega-3 fatty acids help increase high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) and reduce low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood. The American Heart Association recommends consuming two servings per week.

For a heart healthy diet, reduce your consumption of saturated fat. Aim to increase polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. When cooking, avoid hydrogenated vegetable oil. This type of cooking oil contains trans fat, which also is contributed to heart disease. Healthy cooking oils include canola and olive oils.

An overlooked factor which increases the risk of developing heart disease is portion size. Portion size has been reintroduced to the weight loss world in an effort to combat the battle of the bulge. Americans tend to over eat due to the collection of over sized portions that have become the standard meal. A triple whopper, large fries, and large soda are, individually, more than one portion size. When preparing food, read the nutrition label to find the portion size. For a great and simple guide to measuring portions sizes for different foods, visit www.mealsmatter.org.

A Sedentary Life will Kill You Faster

Your habits and activity deeply affects your cardiovascular health. Heart disease has been linked to an inactive lifestyle. In order to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle, you must exercise and find ways to be active. Here are a few tips.

The American Heart Association suggests that you should participate in vigorous activities 20 minutes, 3 times per week. Vigorous activities include jogging, running, bicycling, and swimming. If you do not like the vigorous activity route, then you can do moderate physical activities 30 minutes, 5 days per week. Moderate physical activities include brisk walking and other activities of that level.

Many people do not realize how much the little things (activities) in life can make the difference between a healthy cardiovascular system and a failing heart. Simple activities such as playing with your kids, walking from a farther parking spot, and walking to the corner store increase your heart rate. Raking leaves and shoveling snow are great ways to increase your heart rate. If your job involves sitting for most of the day, make it a point to walk during your breaks and lunch hour.

Making heart healthy changes

Making heart healthy changes, whether you decide to make them all at once or gradually, will not only help you live longer, but will improve your quality of life. Unfortunately, heart disease takes the lives of tens of millions of people each year. What is more unfortunate is that heart disease is one of the most preventable diseases we know. Make the decision to modify your lifestyle for a healthy heart.