Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. One in every four adults die from it! While those statistics may shock you, what’s more shocking is that in most cases it can be prevented. Unlike many genetic diseases or illnesses, we have the resources to prevent heart disease and its related side effects. The earlier you are aware of the tools that you have, the healthier your heart will be, so let’s get started.
1.) Healthy food, healthy heart. This may seem obvious and it’s something we’ve all heard at one time or another, but the types of food that you put into your body play a huge part in heart health. Choosing foods low in saturated fats and sodium (like bacon, butter, processed foods, etc.) help keep cholesterol and blood pressure low. When these factors are heightened the risk for stroke and heart attack increase significantly. Eating vegetables, fruit, high fiber grains, and low fat meats help your heart perform its best. Some good snack examples are nuts, avocados, low fat cheese, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, hummus, and nut butters such as almond or peanut.
2.) Healthy body, healthy heart. Physical activity is another major player in keeping the heart working the way its supposed to. The American Heart Association recommends 2 1/2 hours of brisk activity every week for adults and sixty minutes a day for children. This can include walking quickly, swimming, weight training, hiking, cycling, a dance class, or jogging. For children the possibilities are endless. Studies have shown that people who exercise briskly for 30 minutes a day lower their risk of heart disease by thirty percent!
3.) Diabetes and obesity. People who are obese or have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart disease and the many related symptoms that come with it. It’s important that you and your doctor work together to control your diabetes, as uncontrolled diabetes can damage the artery walls and contribute to coronary heart disease. People who are overweight or have a genetic predisposition to heart disease need to be extra aware of the food they are eating and they activity levels.
Investing in heart health is a good idea at any age. It is never too late to make lifestyle changes, and it’s always easier to do so with the help of a partner or support group. Choose activities that you enjoy doing and keep trying new foods. You may be surprised at what you start to crave. You hold the power to make the proper choices for your body and for your life.
These statements have not been evaluated by a medical professional. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the health of yourself or a loved one always consult your doctor.