Simple Steps Toward Heart Health


In 2010, the American Heart Association introduced “Life’s Simple Seven,” which were steps the public could take to reduce their risk of developing heart disease. A new study informs us that over the span of 11 years, people who met three or four of the heart health steps had a 55% lower risk of cardiac mortality than those who adhered to two or fewer of the criteria. Here are the heart health goals:

Heart Monitor

The American Heart Association’s SIMPLE SEVEN LIFESTYLE FACTORS:

  1. GET ACTIVE. Your heart is your most valuable muscle. Strengthen it! The more recently proposed suggestion on daily exercise has increased to include at least 30 minutes DAILY of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking.
  2. CONTROL YOUR CHOLESTEROL. This means establishing a count of lower than 200mg/dL.
  3. EAT BETTER. Tufts University, in their Health & Nutrition Letter/Volume 13G prints the American Heart Association’s advice to establishing a heart-healthy diet. The main steps are as follows:
  4. Eat a variety of deeply colored vegetables and fruits.
  5. Eat whole-grain foods which are unrefined and fiber-rich..
  6. Eat fish at least twice weekly. For additional protein, try skinless lean meats and poultry without additional saturated and trans fat added. *Select fat-free, 1% fat, and dairy products with low-fat.
  7. Cut back on trans and saturated fats, cholesterol and added sugars.
  8. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Try to eat less than 1500 milligrams of sodium daily. *For more help, consult
  9. MANAGE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE. Try to get it lower than 120/80 mm Hg.
  10. LOSE WEIGHT. Manage to keep a normal BMI or Basal Metabolic Index.
  11. REDUCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR. Here your goal is to achieve a fasting glucose below 100.

I am not going to dispense advice on your love life “ that s best left to those experts who deal with emotional matters of the heart (like my friend and fellow blogger Alisa Bowman and her blog – but what I am going to do give you the American Heart Associations new guidelines for heart health, called The Simple Seven. (For ease, I have consolidated it into five tips. Still simple, though.)

It’s worth a look; in a nationwide study of close to 18,000 adults it was found that those who followed at least five of the seven criteria for ideal cardiovascular health had a 55 percent lower risk of death over five years than those who met none. And I think the statistics can be improved upon if we all pay close(r) attention, take them seriously and try just a bit harder.

Get Active. 

The AHAs guidelines call for moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes each week; or vigorous exercise for at least 75 minutes each week. Exercise helps control your weight, reduce your blood pressure, increase your HDL (good cholesterol) and improve your body s response to insulin, which helps control your blood sugar. Struggling with motivation?

Know “ and Control – Your Numbers.

  There are three significant and important measures that can predict “ and increase “your risk for heart disease: blood pressure, blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels. Keep all three in the healthy range and you can reduce your risk of death from cardiovascular disease over 16 to 22 years by 70-80 percent compared with those who have at least one number in a high-risk range. Here’s what to aim for: blood pressure should be maintained below 120/80; fasting blood glucose should be below 100 mg per deciliter of blood; total cholesterol should be below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood.

Feed Yourself Well. 

Being aware of the nutritional value of what you are eating goes a long way toward a healthy heart. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables; try to get 4-1/2 cups per day. Not only are they low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber; they can help control your weight and your blood pressure. Unrefined whole-grains are packed with fiber and can help push your unhealthy cholesterol levels down while keeping you full. It’s recommended you eat at least 3 ounces each day.  Aim to eat fish at least twice a week, especially oily fish (like salmon, trout and herring) containing omega-3 fatty acids; research shows it may have heart-healthy benefits. Avoid (or at least cut back on) foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce the amount of trans fat you consume; since trans fat raises your ebada cholesterol and lowers your good numbers.  Meats and poultry should be prepared without added saturated and trans fats; they should be as lean as possible and served without the skin. As for salt, new guidelines support that all people limit their daily intake to no more than 1,500 mg (less than 1 tsp.) And limit the amount of sugar you consume; it’s recommended you consume no more than 450 calories worth of sugar-sweetened beverages in a week.

Watch Your Weight.

 A staggering statistic: of Americans age 20-plus, 145 million are overweight or obese “ that translates to 76.9 million men and 68.1 million women. Yikes. And since obesity is now a major culprit for heart disease, that’s just downright frightening. Too much fat “ especially the kind of fat that sits around your waist “ puts you at a much higher risk for problematic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol anddiabetes, plus many more.  The AHA recommends keeping your body mass index (BMI) “ which is your body weight relative to your height – below 25. To calculate it, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, then divide that number by the square of your height in inches.

Stop Smoking.

 I truly hope you never started, but if you do smoke, please stop! You can prevent premature death; lower your risk of developing many chronic and debilitating disorders like atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty substances in your arteries) which can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Smoking also increases the tendency toward blot clots and decreases your HDL cholesterol.

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