Improve Your Diet and Lifestyle and Help Your Heart

Heart disease is a very real problem for many people.  Changes in lifestyle may assist with preventing heart disease.

You want to strive to obtain a normal weight.  If you are overweight you can lose excess pounds by eating a healthy diet with sensible portions and adding some exercise to your daily routine.  Try for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days.

When  you are trying to eat to protect your heart you want to be aware of the amount of sodium you consume.  You do not want more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day and 1,500 milligrams would be a healthier number.  Limit the amount of saturated and trans fats in your diet.  Limit your consumption of high calorie foods and beverages when they contain few nutrients.  Instead, include natural  nutrient dense foods in your meals and snacks. Food should provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients while being low in calories.

When you are making your food choices think lean meats and poultry without skin.  Prepare these by braising, broiling, roasting, grilling or frying.  If you are frying use a small amount of olive oil or another heart healthy oil  or use a cooking spray such as Pam. Do not use saturated or trans fats for frying.

Aim for a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.  A heart healthy diet should include whole grains, fat free of low fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, beans and nuts.  Red meat and sweet sugary drinks and foods should be limited or even eliminated.

Fresh produce helps get rid of harmful free radicals in the bloodstream and protects against heart disease.

The more natural, less processed the food you consume is the better it is for  you.

A few examples of heart healthy foods are:  oatmeal, walnuts, kidney or black beans, almonds, berries, tofu, leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, carrots, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, squash, oranges, tomatoes, flax seed, bran, bananas and pineapple.

A little dark chocolate is fine as long as it contains a cocoa content higher than 70%.

Substitute water for other non healthy beverages.  If you drink alcoholic beverages limit them to no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.

If you are a smoker aim to stop smoking and try to avoid second hand smoke.

To find information on a heart healthy diet and exercise plan visit the web site for the American Heart Association.

As with any diet check with your health care professional before starting a new program.