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How You Can Start Living Heart Healthy

As Heart Health Month comes to a close, we want to provide you with tips on how you can start living a heart healthy life. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. You don’t have to live in fear of a diagnosis if you make simple lifestyle changes.

One of the biggest factors when it comes to diagnosis is the lack of a heart-healthy lifestyle. This is your main and best defense against heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. Here are some easy ways to implement simple changes in your everyday lives.

Heart-Healthy Diet 

A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. The food you eat contributes to so many factors when it comes to your health. They include:

  • Blood sugar
  • Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Weight 

So, what does a heart-healthy diet look like? Choose foods that are rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients but are also low in calories. Your diet should have a large emphasis on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Heart-Healthy Foods

It’s easier than you think to implement a heart-healthy diet into your lifestyle. Take small steps each week to improve your nutrition and move towards your healthiest eating habits. The following foods should be the foundation of your new diet.

  • Vegetables: Focus on the greens!
    • Spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, cabbage
  • Fruits
    • Apples, bananas, pears, oranges, grapes, and prunes
  • Whole grains
    • Oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-grain bread or tortillas
    • Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods such as milk, cheese, or yogurt
    • Protein-rich foods:
  • Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, tuna, and trout
  • Lean meats such as 95% lean ground beef or pork tenderloin
  • Poultry: Skinless chicken or turkey
  • Eggs
  • Nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans
  • Oils and foods containing high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:
    • Canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, sunflower, and soybean oils
    • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts
    • Nut and seed butters
    • Seeds such as sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, or flax
    • Avocados
    • Tofu

8 Eating Healthy Goals

Small changes to your day-to-day diet end up having big impacts on your health. Try incorporating at least six of our eight goals into your diet over the next six weeks. Try incorporating one new goal each week.

  1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
    1. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.
  2. Make half the grains you eat whole grains.
    1. The easiest way to do this? Switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food such as whole-wheat bread as opposed to white bread.
  3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  4. Choose a variety of lean protein foods.
  5. Compare sodium in foods.
    1. Use Nutrition Facts labels to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals.
  6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
    1. The easiest way to cut calories is by choosing water over tea or other sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories.
  7. Eat seafood.
    1. Adults should try and eat at least eight ounces of a variety of seafood per week.
  8. Cut back on solid fats.
    1. Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. These include cookies, cakes, and other desserts. This can also include butter, margarine, or shortening.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

After implementing changes to your diet, lifestyle changes come next. These changes can range from quitting smoking, to limiting alcohol intake, to making sure you get enough physical activity each week.

 Stop Smoking

Smoking can raise your risk of heart disease and heart attack and even worsen other ischemic heart disease risk factors. Talk to our doctor about programs and products that can help you kick this habit. You can learn more about the importance of quitting smoking by visiting the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Lower High Cholesterol

Fat lodged in your arteries is a disaster waiting to happen. This blockage could trigger a heart attack or a stroke. If you need to lower your cholesterol, consider reducing your intake of saturated and trans-fat, cholesterol, and start implementing an exercise regimen. 

LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels 100 to 129 are acceptable for people with no health issues but may be more concerning for those with heart disease or heart disease risk factors.

Lower Blood Pressure 

If you have high blood pressure, shake your salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving. An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg.

Add an Exercise Routine to Your Day and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Make sure you are physically active every day. According to the American Heart Association, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. Here are some great ways you can get active.

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Register for an exercise class such as yoga, Pilates, or a spin class

Reduce Stress

A few studies have found a correlation between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person’s life. These factors can also affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

We all have stressors that affect our lives – work, family, home life. Knowing how to manage these factors are key to living a healthy, stress-free life. There are some ways you can manage your stress from the AHA. 

A healthy lifestyle is important for avoiding the diagnosis of heart disease or experiencing a heart attack. At Greenville Ob/Gyn, your health is our number one importance. Our doctors and midwives can help you create a plan to start living your healthiest life. Schedule your appointment today.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

American Heart Association