- Cook for your heart. Eating a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to protect your heart. Ideally, a diet that is low in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar and high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids and dark chocolate (yum!) has the most heart-health benefits. With this in mind, here are a few of our favorite recipes:
- Quit smoking. Smoking is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease after high blood pressure with a direct link to almost 10 percent of all cases. More importantly, smoking is 100 percent avoidable. Within five years of quitting smoking, the risk of having a heart attack decreases by 50 percent; this is reason enough to quit if you are currently a smoker.
- Get your heart pumpin’! Obesity can increase the risk of coronary artery disease ten-fold while lack of exercise can double the risk of heart disease. We recommend 15 to 20 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week to workout your body and your heart.
- Reduce stress. With warmer weather right around the corner, the sunshine, fresh produce and easy access to outside activities all come together to reduce stress and promote heart health. Practicing meditation or engaging in your favorite hobby are also great stress relievers and promoters of healthy mind, body and spirit. Research has shown that depression increases the negative effects and risk of heart disease so seek professional help if needed.
- Get routine check-ups. Most important, schedule regular appointments with your primary physician or cardiologist. Follow doctor-recommended advice to control blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and other factors to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
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