Nearly half of Americans have one of the three top risk factors for heart disease, according to the CDC. Heart disease continues to rank as the number one killer for both men and women in the United States. Controlling these risk factors and reducing your risk of heart disease may seem like a daunting task, but preventing heart disease doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, that’s the last thing it should be.
Making small changes to your daily lifestyle can help you transition into habits that help keep you healthy and active for years to come. If you have any of the risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking, or are simply looking to cut your risk of disease, here are 6 heart healthy tips to get you on the right track:
1) Eat more fruits and vegetables
This cannot be emphasized enough. A CDC report found that only about one-third of Americans met the daily goal for fruit consumption. Even worse, just a little over one-quarter of Americans met the daily goal for vegetables. A diet high in fruits and vegetables provides a great deal of fiber and can seriously help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and obesity. Most Americans aren’t even meeting the minimum standards, so add in some fresh produce to your daily routine!
2) Limit your cholesterol and saturated fat
High LDL cholesterol is one of the top risk factors for heart disease, and eating too many foods high in saturated fat can cause your cholesterol to skyrocket. Avoid foods like red meat and solid fats like butter and margarine to keep your saturated fat levels low and your cholesterol in check.
3) Cut back on your alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol use can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease, so be sure you are not consuming too much. The American Heart Association states that drinking more can increase your risk of obesity and high blood pressure, which can lead to a heart attack or other type of heart disease. Keep your alcohol consumption at a minimum to avoid these health threats.
4) Exercise regularly
The benefits of exercise are hard to overstate. Regular physical activity will help you maintain your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, and ease depression and anxiety. To get extra benefits, exercise outside and soak up some natural Vitamin D.
5) Manage your stress
Severe stress can lead to a number of issues that cause the risk of heart disease to rise. If you don’t learn how to best deal with stress, it can cause high blood pressure, obesity, poor sleep, and a lack of exercise. All of these can contribute to a more severe risk of heart disease, so learning the ways that you best deal with stress can immensely help your mind and body stay healthy.
6) Stop smoking
One of the major risk factors for heart disease, smoking can also cause a number of other problems like cancer, poor oral health, and stroke. Quitting smoking is usually no easy task, but the health benefits that you will reap from your new, smoke-free lifestyle will be drastic.
Heart disease is a common reason people need long term care, usually due to their unhealthy lifestyle and harmful habits. Starting small can help you make the transition into a healthier mindset and dramatically cut the risk of a heart attack or sudden cardiac death. Read more ways to stay healthy in your senior years or read these small diet changes that can help keep you on the track to a healthy retirement.