10 habits for a heart healthy lifestyle

ARTICLE BY: ELIZABETH ROGERS

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Heart disease is a top killer worldwide -- but our lifestyle choices can go a long way toward reducing our risk. In honour of World Heart Day in September, we round up the basics to living well.
It may be the strongest muscle in your body, but your heart is still vulnerable to disease. Each year, cardiovascular disease claims over 17 million lives around the world. By 2030, that number could reach 23 million, according to the World Heart Federation. It’s one of the top causes of death worldwide — even in countries that have access to health care and prevention.
Medicine has come a long way preventing and treating cardiovascular disease and saving lives, but we have to do our part too. Lifestyle choices can make a difference in how long and how well we live.
Here’s what experts say we should be doing to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Enjoy a healthy diet

We often hear that this or that food is good for the heart, but you don’t need to load up on super foods. Experts still say the best way to get those beneficial good fats and essential nutrients is through eating a healthy and varied diet. Eating well shouldn’t feel like deprivation with heart healthy foods like salmon, nuts, olive oil, legumes, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Foods that are high in fibre also help lower cholesterol.
And dare we say eat more fruits and vegetables? They’re packed with essential vitamins and nutrients we need for good over all health — like antioxidants, beta carotene and vitamin C, to name a few.
We know what foods shouldn’t be staples in our diet: bad fats (like saturated fats and trans fats), processed foods and foods high in sugars and salt. These foods can contribute to weight gain, unhealthy cholesterol levels, glucose intolerance and chronic inflammation in the body — all of which take a toll on the heart.
 (For more information, see 6 keys to healthy eating and Top foods your heart will love for ideas.)

Drink in moderation (if at all)

While some studies have shown that alcohol — particularly red wine — offers some small heart protective benefits, but experts advise caution. Consuming too much alcohol can increase heart risk and contribute to weight gain, liver disease, chronic inflammation and other conditions.
How much is too much? For some people there is no safe amount — like if you’re taking certain medications or have certain health conditions. Otherwise, guidelines recommend no more than one or two standard drinks per day to a limit of nine per week for women and 14 for men. However, experts don’t recommend starting drinking as a prevention strategy. (For more information, see the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s advice.)

Get active (and stay active)

Exercise has many benefits for the heart– such as lowering blood pressure, helping control blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress and increasing good cholesterol levels. Experts estimate that people who aren’t currently active can cut their risk of a heart attack by as much as 35-55 per cent simply by getting more exercise.
http://www.50plus.com/lifestyle/10-habits-for-a-heart-healthy-lifestyle/131277/
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