Keeping Your Heart Healthy

The best way to avoid heart problems in the future is by adopting healthier habits today. While there are some risk factors you can’t change, such as your genetics or age, making healthier choices about food, exercise and lifestyle will help you protect your heart.

Downsize Your Portions

When sitting down for a meal, especially when dining out, think twice before cleaning your plate. Restaurant portions are often two to four times larger than the recommended serving size.

Face the Fats

Replacing unhealthy fats in your diet, i.e. saturated and trans fats, with good fats can reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. Just remember moderation, as all types of fat are high in calories.

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Fiber is Your Friend

A diet high in soluble fiber, the kind found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can help lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your digestive health.

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Skip the Salt

Excess sodium accumulates in your blood and retains water, which increases your blood volume and makes your heart work harder. This can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

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Cut Back on Cocktails

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

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Exercise & Energize Your Life

Lack of exercise is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and results in loss of muscle tone. According to the American Heart Association, all healthy adults ages 18–65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity three days a week. Exercise can also help improve your mood, boost your energy level and enhance the quality of your sleep.

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Say No to Tobacco

Smoking increases blood pressure. It also decreases your ability to exercise and your body’s level of good HDL cholesterol. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of repeat heart attacks and death from heart disease by 50 percent or more.

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