5 Key Steps for Heart Health

Health Professional

First, you need to maintain a healthy weight. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight promotes overall health and prevents many diseases, including heart disease. Living with extra weight, puts an increased burden on your heart. Being overweight or obese puts you at increased risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and other health conditions.

Here are five additional key steps you can take for heart health:

1.      Exercise more.

Being inactive is a major risk factor for heart disease. Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, has many heart related benefits. For example, exercise will strengthen your heart, improves circulation, and lowers blood pressure.

2.      Cut back on salt.

Salt can hide in places you may not expect. Read food labels. For some individuals, a high sodium diet is linked to high blood pressure. High blood pressure puts excess work on the heart and can lead to stroke and heart failure.

3.      Avoid trans fat.

Trans fat increase LDL cholesterol, increase triglycerides and lowers HDL cholesterol. The FDA no longer recognizes trans fats as "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. Read food labels and select heart healthy oil when cooking, such as olive oil or canola oil.

4.      Reduce high fat meats.

Select leaner cuts of beef, pork, and poultry. Trim off any visible fat. Avoid processed meats. Processed meats would include sausage, lunch meats, and bacon.

5.      Eat fruits and vegetables daily.

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are low in both fat in calories. You want to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day. The American Heart Association recommends eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day. Fruits and vegetables will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure.

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