Research shows that you can lower your heart disease risk enormously - by 82 percent - simply by leading a healthy lifestyle. In most cases, that means following a heart-healthy eating plan, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. Some people may need to take medication to control heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
You can greatly improve the condition of your heart by eating healthfully. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans tells you to:
Choose a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat
Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains
Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily
Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars
Choose and prepare foods with less salt
If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation
The Dietary Guidelines also emphasize that you should aim for a healthy weight, by being physically active each day.
Portion sizes are also vitally important. Follow these guidelines and visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to learn more.
FRUITS Fuel Up With Fruits at Meals or Snacks Oranges, pears, berries, watermelon, peaches, raisins, and applesauce (without extra sugar) are just a few of the great choices. Make sure your juice is 100% fruit juice.
VEGETABLES Color Your Plate With Great-Tasting Veggies Try to eat more dark-green, red, and orange vegetables, and beans and peas.
GRAINS Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole Grains Choose whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, whole-wheat tortillas, brown rice, and light popcorn, more often.
PROTEIN Vary Your Protein Foods Try fish, shellfish, beans, and peas more often. Some tasty ways include a bean burrito, hummus, veggie chili, fish taco, shrimp or tofu stir-fry, or grilled salmon.
DAIRY Get Your Calcium-Rich Foods Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese at meals or snacks. Dairy foods contain calcium for strong bones and healthy teeth.