Steps you can take now to make sure your heart doesn't give you trouble.
As doctors have learned more about cardiovascular disease, they've also discovered there are steps you can take to help keep you heart healthy.
If you're looking for an easy way to remember what to do, just think in terms of FIVES.
F stands for Fats. There are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. The trick is to know the difference so you can stay away from the fats that can hurt you. The fats and oils you should be sure to include in meals include olive and canola oil, natural peanut butter, walnuts and avocado. Limit unhealthy saturated fats and trans-fats which are commonly found in red meat, whole fat dairy products and processed foods.
I is for Information. Knowing your family's health history will allow you to see if you're at risk for heart disease which like high cholesterol and stroke is influenced by genetics and lifestyle. This includes knowing what your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and BMI are.
The American Heart Association suggests you shoot for:
Blood pressure: Less than 120/80 mmHg
Cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL; Children less than 170 mg/dL
Fasting Blood Sugar: Less than 100 mg/dL
BMI: Less than 25
V stands for Vegetables (throw fruits in this category too). Try to get 9 servings a day which is about 4 and 1/2 cups. These super foods contain vitamins and minerals that help control blood pressure, and antioxidants that prevent inflammation which contributes to the build up of plaque that leads to blockage.
E is for Exercise. Try to get 30 minutes a day of moderate activity like walking. Children should get even more, at least 60 minutes a day.
S stands for Stop Smoking. Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the US. Smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders.