I thought I would add a FAQ section to consolidate basic healthy lifestyle information in a quick digestive way for people on the run.
What is a heart-healthy lifestyle?
Living a heart-healthy lifestyle means eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, staying at a healthy weight, not smoking, and getting daily exercise.
A heart-healthy diet stresses vegetables, fruits, beans, and low-fat dairy products; includes fish and poultry; and limits red meat, sugary foods and drinks, and sodium. Cutting down on the amount of fast food or processed food, which is loaded with fat, salt, and sugar, is a great way to start eating more healthfully.
The type of fat that you eat is important. Most of the fat that you eat should be unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats come mostly from plants like olives, beans, and seeds. They also are found in fish, especially fatty fish like salmon. You should eat fish at least twice a week.
Increasing your intake of fiber also can help lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Foods that are good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods.
Moderate alcohol use—no more than 1 drink a day for women—may help decrease the risk of heart disease in those who are middle aged or older. But drinking at more than a moderate level can increase the risk of CVD as well as other serious health problems, such as cancer.
Obesity and being overweight increase the risk of many health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Weight loss is recommended if you are overweight or obese. Your doctor or other health care professional may recommend a diet and exercise plan that can help you lose weight safely and effectively. Medications to help with weight loss or bariatric surgery (weight-loss surgery) may be options for some obese people.
Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. Your risk of heart disease increases the more you smoke and the longer you smoke. Female smokers have a higher risk of heart disease than male smokers. If you smoke, quit. You can get help from your doctor or other health care professional and from “quit lines” that have been set up in every state. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to find out how to access the quit line in your area.
Lack of physical activity can increase your risk of CVD. Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and promote the health of your blood vessels. It helps boost your “good cholesterol” levels and lower blood pressure levels, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on 5 days per week or into smaller 10-minute periods throughout each day.