Eight Heart Healthy Habits

The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.  Those at the greatest risk for such grave heart problems include anyone with a history of: stroke, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

To limit your chances of becoming part of this grave U.S. statistic, start following these 8 simple steps and start improving your heart health right away.

Potassium: Fruits and vegetables high in potassium are great for heart health.  Try to incorporate bananas, tomatoes, spinach, Brussels sprouts and kiwi fruit into your diet each day.

Fruits and vegetables

Nutrients: Choose nutrient rich foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables.  The different colors represent different vitamins and nutrients so try to keep your plate as colorful as possible.  See  (*Link to colorful veggies article).

Decrease Sodium: Remember to use fresh fruit as often as possible to limit sodium in your foods. Also, try using different spices to improve the taste of foods rather than salt.

Reduce Cholesterol: To reduce cholesterol, choose whole grains rice and breads that are rich with fiber.  These fiber rich foods will also help you feel more full and satisfied, read from the link.

Limit Fats and Sugars: Try to keep the sugars and fats in your diet to a minimum.   The American Heart Association recommends that fat consumption be only 20-35% of your daily calorie intake.  That means about 44-78 grams per day.

Limit Saturated Fats: When talking about fats, it is also important to remember which types of fat are healthier.  Saturated fats increase your LDL levels (also described as “bad” cholesterol).  Limit saturated fats by choosing low or non-fat dairy products.  Also, when it comes to cooking, use healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling or broiling.  These healthy cooking methods will help to eliminate added fats from cooking oils.

Omega-3: Choose fish when dining out to get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.  Also try adding a sprinkle flax seed over your cereal, yogurt or smoothies to add fiber and healthy omega-3 fats.

heart is a muscle

Stay active:  Your heart is a muscle.  Like any muscle, regular exercise will keep it strong and durable.  The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity a day, 5 times per week.   (Remember that you can break this up into 10 or 15 minute bouts of activity, such as walks on your breaks at work).

Love your heart and treat it right and it will keep you ‘ticking’ for as long as possible.