Every week brings in a new tidal wave of information on preventing heart disease. One week, research experts are touting the benefits of vitamin E; the next week, vitamin E is out. These trends and shifts in focus are routine. However, there are at least three steadfast rules for reducing your risk for heart disease…
#1 Enjoy a healthy diet.
Fad diets will always be fad diets. If you really want to prevent heart disease, eat a diet that is:
- Low in fat (especially saturated fats and trans fats)
- Low in cholesterol, sodium, sugar and sweeteners
- Full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Light on meat. Opt for lean poultry and fish when you do consume meat.
Many Americans use the excuse of “needing enough protein” to justify a diet high in animal fats. However, by eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables, you will get the 50 – 175 grams of protein you need per day. For example, did you know that over half of the calories in spinach are protein?
#2 Exercise for at least 2.5 hours per week.
Exercise is absolutely essential to good cardiovascular health. Assuming you are in good physical condition, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week (e.g. brisk walking). If you don’t have that much time, getting at least 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week can be just as effective in reducing your risk for heart disease.
If your health condition precludes you from getting this much weekly exercise, talk to your physician about setting appropriate goals.
#3 Get regular screenings to prevent heart disease.
There are a number of regular health screenings that can help you become more aware of your risk for heart disease. These include:
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels
- Blood sugar test to check for diabetes (if you have a family history or risk factors)
- Patients in their 60s should have an ankle-brachial index test every 1-2 years.
Have more questions about how to prevent heart disease? Schedule an appointment at Phoenix Heart Center by calling 602-234-0004. Locations in Phoenix, East Mesa, and Tempe, AZ.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.