Heart healthy habits

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in the world, and the United States. Over 85 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease. So, what can you do to prevent heart disease?

Studies have proven there are two main ways to help reduce your risk of heart disease: being active and eating healthy.

Physical activity

Sedentary behavior and physical inactivity are risks for heart disease and other health problems. There are proven cardiovascular benefits from exercise, including reduced risk of heart failure, stroke, and all heart-related causes of death.

Just 15 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 14%.

It is recommended to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. This includes brisk walking, swimming, or biking.

Healthy diet

A heart healthy diet is also important to reduce your risk of heart disease. A healthy diet includes a balance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

It has been found that the Mediterranean and vegetarian diets have been associated with reduced levels of cardiovascular disease. The lower your body mass index (BMI), the lower your risk for both cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Diet recommendations

  • Consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day
  • Consume legumes four times a week
    • Legumes are an excellent source of vegetable protein
  • Increase consumption of whole grain products
    • Bran and germ are whole grains rich in fiber and vitamins
  • Reduce consumption of processed meats
  • Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats
    • Substitute extra virgin olive oil for butter or hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Limit sugar and sugar sweetened drinks

Take control of your heart health by exercising regularly and eating a heart healthy diet. Adopting one healthy change at a time will help you make the change a habit. Once mastered, add another healthy habit to make lifestyle changes.   

Last reviewed: 
February 2022

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