28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 9: Make Nuts Your Go-To Snack

Studies have found that those who eat more than 5 ounces of nuts a week are one-third less likely to have either heart disease or a heart attack. Just don’t overdo it — nuts are high in fat and calories, which can pack on pounds if you inhale them by the fistful.

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28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 8: Make Room for Veggies

To get the 2 cups that nutritionists recommend you eat daily, aim to make vegetables 50% of your meals. Extra points for picking cruciferous vegetables such as kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage, which are a gold mine of antioxidants and other heart-saving phytochemicals.

28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 7: Start Your Morning With Juice

Orange juice contains folic acid that helps lower your levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to a higher heart attack risk. Grape juice is loaded with flavonoids and resveratrol, both potent antioxidants that may discourage red blood cells from clumping together and forming an artery-blocking clot. Choose 100% fruit juices to limit excess sugar.

28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 6: Feast on Fish

Meat’s saturated fat will clog your arteries. On the other hand, fish such as salmon and anchovies are loaded with the omega-3 fatty acids that will help your heart maintain a steady rhythm. Having even one serving of fish high in omega-3s a week could reduce your risk of death from a heart attack by 52%!

Try these 10 fast fish recipes for salmon, tilapia, and more

28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 5: Fiber Up Your Diet

Studies show that the more fiber you eat, the less likely you are to have a heart attack. Load up on whole grain breads and cereals that contain whole wheat, wheat bran, and oats. Toss beans into casseroles, soups, and salads. Aim for at least 25 to 35 g of fiber a day.

Get a printable shopping list of high-fiber foods with our Fiber Up Food Finder

Get Healthy High Fiber Recipes

28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 2: Scan Food Labels for Saturated Fat

Adults who read food labels and nutrition facts slash twice as many calories from fat as those who don’t give them a look, according to one study. When it comes to heart health, that’s important: Don’t let fat exceed 30% percent of your calories. And more important, make most of your fat the healthy monounsaturated (from olive oil, nuts, dark chocolate, avocado) and polyunsaturated (from salmon, flaxseed, walnuts) kinds.

Limit saturated fat intake to 7% of your total calories (for a 1,600-calorie diet, that’s about 12 g a day). And avoid trans fats whenever possible; they should comprise 1% of your daily calories, or less than 2 g a day. (Look for “hydrogenated” on ingredient lists; trans fats are most often found in cookies, crackers, baked goods, and other processed foods.) Both of these fats raise levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Natural Cures for Heart Health

Did you know that more than 41 million women in America have heart disease? And that more women than men will die from it? In fact, it’s the leading health problem that kills women (not cancer — a common myth).

But the good news is that just five lifestyle guidelines — moderate alcohol, a healthy diet, daily exercise, normal body weight, and not smoking — can cut your heart attack risk by a whopping 92%, according to a Swedish study of more than 24,000 women. Incorporating just the first two into your routine cuts your risk by more than half.

The 28 tips that follow are designed to help you get started. Try one a day for a month, and then stick with as many as you can for the long haul.

Heart Attack Prevention

Heart Disease

Heart attack prevention depends on monitoring and modifying certain risk factors. These risk factors are interrelated. Each of us may have one or more risk factors. If we make moderate change in one area of life, we may reduce other risk factors at the same time.

Keep blood cholesterol levels in check.

–Everyone adult should know what his or her cholesterol level is.

–According to the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, if your cholesterol level is greater than 240 mg/dL or if the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) is above 130 mg/dL, aggressive measures should be taken to lower it.

–If you can’t lower your levels through diet alone, medications can help.

–Lipid- and cholesterol-lowering drugs such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), cerivastatin (Baycol [removed from US market 8/8/01]), and pravastatin (Pravachol) can reduce the rate of progression of coronary heart disease and also reduce repeat heart attacks. They work by lowering cholesterol and modifying the inner lining of your arteries.

Eat a well-balanced diet.

–Avoid eating large amounts of fat and cholesterol in your diet because these can accelerate the progression of hardening and clogging of coronary arteries.

–A well-balanced diet is good not only for those with high cholesterol but also for everyone. It helps to control cholesterol level as well as weight.

–The American Heart Association recommends that the maximum number of calories from fat be less than 30% of total calories.

Limit the amount of fast food you eat.

–Most fast food is very high in fat, even the salads and other so-called “healthy” foods.

–This may not be convenient but may provide significant benefit in the long run.

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

–Although some research suggests that alcohol can help protect against heart disease, limit your intake to 1-2 drinks per day.

–Larger amounts can increase blood pressure, cause heart rhythm disturbances, and damage the heart muscle or liver.

Stop smoking.

–Quitting smoking is the single best lifestyle change you can make.

–Passive smoking, smoking cigars, or chewing tobacco are also dangerous to health.

–Quitting is difficult for most people. Ask your health care provider for advice and support.

Increase your physical activity.

–Exercise helps to lower the blood pressure, increase the level of good cholesterol (HDL), and control excess weight.

–Start slowly if you need to, but try to reach the goal of at least 30 minutes of endurance exercise 3-5 times a week. Such exercises include walking, swimming, biking, and aerobics.

–Almost everyone can take part in some form of physical activity.

–Before beginning an exercise program, talk to your health care provider.

Lose extra weight.

–Being overweight puts extra strain on the heart and blood vessels.

–A high-fiber, low-fat diet and regular exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off.

–Many diets are promoted by people with self-interest. Some of these may be unsafe.

–Get advice from your health care provider before starting any nontraditional weight loss program.

–Avoid “diet pills” (such as Fen-Phen). Some of these have been found to cause heart valve disease or other dangerous conditions in some users.

–“Natural” weight-loss products such as ephedrine can be very dangerous.