Heart Health for Life

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Did you know that a heathy heart beats more than 100,000 times per day? Our body contains approximately six quarts of blood, which are circulated through the body three times per minute. In only one day, blood travels 12,000 miles!
But our heart is often an organ we take for granted—that is, until we experience a coronary event. But once this happens, the damage has been done. Fortunately, modern medicine has made heart repair routine. Valve replacement, pacemakers, and vascular stents are only a few of the procedures allowing doctors to heal the heart.

But regardless of all this technology, prevention is the best way to approach issues of heart disease. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle is key. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you do just that:

1. Eat a variety of food items, but not in excess. Adding different colored vegetables and fruits, legumes, and low-fat dairy products can prevent food from becoming boring.

2. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight is one of the leading causes of high blood pressure or diseases such as diabetes. To avoid such issues, it is best to keep a check on weight. Eat slowly, take smaller portions, and opt for foods low in calories but rich in nutrients.

3. Eat food with adequate fiber. Fruits and vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and apples have skin that should be consumed in addition to the flesh of the plant. The current trend toward juicing and smoothies may provide added nutrients; however, juices and smoothies tend to be high in sugar and low in fiber, thereby stripping potential health benefits.

4. Avoid excess sugar. A single can of soda can contain 10 teaspoons of sugar, and a tablespoon of ketchup contains a teaspoon of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.

5. Use less sodium. Limit the amount of salt used when preparing foods. Use more natural seasonings such as natural spices, lemon juice, tomatoes, and savory vegetables.

6. Avoid processed foods. Many processed foods contain excess sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (sugar’s evil twin). Highly processed foods contain chemicals to preserve the food and to add color, flavor, and texture, but they have no nutritional value. And these foods are created to taste good without considering health, resulting in excess consumption and excess calories.

7. Exercise. A moderate exercise schedule of only 150 minutes (that is, only 30 minutes per day for five days) will improve heart health. Walking, jogging, biking, and swimming are great ways to get moving and stay active.

8. Remember, real food is the key to a healthy diet. Try shopping the parameter of the grocery store (produce, meat, and dairy). You will quickly learn that the food tastes better, you will feel full faster, and you will even save money. Your heart will thank you for a whole foods approach to your diet.