The facts about heart health are at our fingertips. In fact, we are assaulted at every step we take about what must be done to get heart healthy. No small wonder, when heart attacks are the Number One killer for men and women. And while women can almost sit back and think that men are more at risk–with higher stress levels and that beer belly–heart issues are still the number one killer for women.
Myself? Well, I may have a family history of heart failure, strokes, high blood pressure and heart disease in my genes, but so far I am totally free from any evidence of all that stuff. Does that mean that I can eat (all the red meat and dairy products I want), drink (more than one glass of red wine a day, oh lordie), and be merry?
Well, yeah to the merry part: I can dance, jog and walk and listen to great music–but on the somber side? I need to be mindful of how to be heart healthy–and not because I’m fearful. I’m not closing down all pursuits of riotous living in the name of living longer. What would that be for?
What is the point of increasing the life span if simultaneously one isn’t living life to the fullest? Read on, if you’d like to have a full life while increasing heart health and a zest for life.
There are 7 steps to attain a healthy heart. Read to the end and don’t give up.
- Don’t smoke. If you do: after you quit for a year, your heart will have its health back–fresh start.
- Healthy BMI. If you’re anything like me, you don’t know what those initials stand for, so you need to go online to the American Heart Association. They give a formula for finding out what your Body Mass Index is. Once you do that, you’ll know if you’re right on track with your height and weight, and if not–what to do to get on it.
- Assess your physical activity. One needs 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. If you can only walk for 15 minutes, then do that and find another time of the day to walk 15 minutes more. The deal is? The more time spent moving, the better. Another piece of advice: 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week; 75 minutes of vigorous every week. Anything that can make you sweat and increase your heart rate.
- Keep your blood pressure below 120/80. And how to do that? By eating healthy and exercising.
- Get your cholesterol levels checked yearly. The fasting blood glucose should be less than 100 milligrams/deciliter.
- This goes with #5–Total cholesterol less than 200 milligrams/deciliter. (This is stuff that your lab results will give you; you’ve got to go get the test.)
- And this is the big one: Have a healthy diet–
- FOUR and a half CUPS of fruit and vegetables EVERY DAY.
- 3.5 oz. servings of fish weekly
- 3 X one ounce serving of fiber-rich whole grains per day
- limiting sodium to 1,500 mg daily
- no more than 36 oz of sugary beverages weekly
Other advice on eating?
If you want to eat red meat, then get a lean portion and cut off the fat. Cut down on dairy products; eat non fat yoghurts, milk, cheese.
Also, some good news about Omega 3s:
Fatty fish have the highest content of Omega 3s–finally with some fat that is recommended! These are the recommended fish: wild salmon, white or albacore tuna, lake trout, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring.
Other food items that have Omega 3s in a lesser quantity than fish: flaxseed, vegetable oils, walnuts, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and edamame. Great news about Omega 3s–they curb inflammation in the blood vessels and make abnormal heart rhythms less likely, and they slow plaque build up in the arteries.
Then, go to www.heart.org/mylifecheck