Making Your Lifestyle Heart-Healthy
The millions of Americans diagnosed with heart and cardiovascular diseases can benefit
from making healthy choices in their day-to-day lives.
Follow a healthy diet
Eating a nutritious diet is a proven way to reduce the risk for heart disease. These
are the elements of a heart-healthy diet (amounts listed are for adults):
Eat 2 cups fresh fruits and 2-1/2 to 3 cups vegetables every day.
Limit saturated and trans fats by using olive oil or other vegetable oils
instead of butter or margarine. Consume less than 10% of calories per day from saturated
fats. Remember also to limit the total fat intake to less than 30% of your daily
Eat more chicken and fish and less red meat. Avoid processed meats which are
loaded with preservatives, sodium, and sugars.
Eat 6 to 8 ounces of grains, of which at least half should be from whole-grain
bread and cereal.
Limit or eliminate fast foods, which are often loaded with salt, sugar and fats.
Consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars. For a 2000 calorie per
day diet in active individuals, less than 10% of daily calorie intake is equal to
200 calories a day or 50 grams of sugar in one day. If you keep a food diary, you
can see that this adds up fast as sugar is often substituted for fat to add flavor.
If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. That means no more than 2 drinks
a day if you're a man, 1 if you're a woman.
Limit your salt and sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day.
Get the equivalent of 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk or dairy products (or
soy, rice, or almond milk for people who can’t tolerate lactose) every day. Milk
and milk alternatives should have 130 calories or less per 8 fluid oz.
Regular exercise keeps your heart and the rest of your body in shape. These are ways
to add more activity to your life:
Check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program if you've
been sedentary or have a chronic disease.
Start slowly and increase your activity gradually to at least 30 to 40 minutes of
moderate to high intensity activities, 4 to 5 days a week. You can do this by taking
a brisk walk.
Do weight training and stretching exercises 2 or more times per week that will work
all major muscle groups.
Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Here's how to live smoke-free:
Decide to quit and set a quit date. If you fail, try again. Successful quitters
often tried many times before they were able to quit.
Ask your healthcare provider for information about aids lo help you stop smoking
like a nicotine patch or inhaler, medicines, and a counseling or support program.
Learn to relax
Constant anger and stress can damage your heart. Try these suggestions to better cope
with life's pressures:
Try to be positive instead of negative in your outlook on life.
Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe deeply.
Take time for yourself each day. Read a book, listen to music, or enjoy a
Monitor your health
Take charge when it comes to your heart's health. To do so, work with your healthcare
provider to reduce your heart disease risk by following up with him or her for treatment
for high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.