10 Tips for Preventing Heart Disease Every Day

February is heart month, but it really should be every month when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Balanced nutrition, daily exercise and regular check-ups are all key to preventing heart disease. Baptist Health will highlight heart month at a special event February 28, with free health screenings and presentations by physicians from Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute and South Miami Heart Center.

To get you started, here are 10 tips for preventing heart disease:

1. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
There are no magic pills that can substitute for the benefits of regular exercise to maintain heart health and overall physical fitness. As an added bonus, you’ll feel better. At a minimum, you should aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day.  If you want to lose weight or meet certain fitness goals, you may need to do more. You don’t have to join a gym right away. Daily brisk walking with a friend is a great way to get started.

2. Incorporate aerobic, strength, resistance and flexibility training into your workouts.
A mix of aerobic activity and strength training using weights is ideal for optimum results. But you also need to incorporate stretching and a flexibility routine to avoid straining muscles, particularly for those starting an exercise regiment for the first time. Each pound of muscle increases metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories.

3. Quit smoking.
It still needs to be said, since about 20% of Americans still light up a cigarette every day, despite the well -documented health hazards of tobacco. Which smoking-related disease is the No. 1 cause of death among smokers?  It’s not lung cancer. It’s heart disease. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds; 200 of which are known to be poisonous. More than 60 have been identified as carcinogens.

4. Control your portions.
A vital component of heart health is nutrition. A key ingredient in weight management is controlling your portions. Most people seriously underestimate how many calories they’ve eaten — often by 25% or more. Studies have found that overweight people tend to underestimate calories by twice as much as people of average weight.

5. Eat three to five servings per day of fruits and vegetables.
Your mother was right when she made you eat your broccoli and when she put an apple in your lunch box. Fruits and vegetables are a natural source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They can be enjoyed raw, cooked or as part of an entree. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits can help you ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure, help prevent some types of cancer, avoid some intestinal ailments, and guard against cataracts and macular degeneration, two common causes of vision impairment.

6. Limit saturated fats and cholesterol.
Excessive cholesterol in your diet can increase your unhealthy LDL “the bad cholesterol” level, although not as much as saturated fat does. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Most foods that contain saturated fat also contain cholesterol. Diets high in saturated fat have been linked to chronic disease, specifically, coronary heart disease. Dietary guidelines recommend consuming less than 10% of daily calories as saturated fat. Saturated fat culprits include high-fat cheeses, high-fat cuts of meat, Whole-fat milk and cream, and ice cream products.

7. Limit your sodium intake.
You might be already trying to eat less sodium by limiting yourself to a pinch of table salt on your veggies or a dash on your steak. But a pinch here and a dash there add up faster than you realize, leading to unhealthy levels of sodium. The average American gets about 3,400 mg of sodium a day — much more than recommended. About 2,300 milligrams of sodium is recommended. When you eat salt, your blood pressure can go up. And high blood pressure dramatically increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

8. Choose low-fat protein sources.
Protein can help you lose weight while making you feel full. But it’s important to eat the right amount and the right kind of protein to get the health benefits. Seafood is a good source of protein as is white-meat poultry.  One-half cup of beans holds as much protein as an ounce of broiled steak. Studies indicate that a source of protein like an egg or Greek yogurt at breakfast, along with a high fiber grain like whole wheat toast, can help you feel full longer.

9. Know your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose.
Regular check-ups help you keep track of the vital numbers relating to blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose. Those with prediabetes (slight elevated blood sugar levels) and those with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. They are also likely to be overweight or obese. All of these factors increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other serious health complications.

10. Reduce stress.
It is easier said than done, but reducing stress can help you live longer and healthier. The body reacts to stress with physical, mental, and emotional responses. Those physical responses could include elevated blood pressure, which raises the risk of a heart attack for those already experiencing other risk factors.

Here’s more on the event:

What: Heart to Heart on Health: An Evening Dedicated to Your Heart
When: February 28, 2013, 6-8 p.m.
Location: Temple Beth Am, located at 5950 North Kendall Drive

Take advantage of free health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body composition. And  learn from the experts from Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute and South Miami Heart Center as they discuss the following topics:

After the presentations, get your results and free counseling. To register, please call 786-596-3812.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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