8 Steps to a Healthier Heart
Photo By: Tarasyuk Igor
Choose Fruits and Vegetables
Not only are fruits and vegetables high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, they're low in calories and high in cell-protecting antioxidants. Adding more to your day couldn't be easier. Add extra vegetables to soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as egg, rice and pasta dishes. Snack on fresh fruit between meals. Find a local farmers' market and see what's in season in your region.
Focus on Fiber
Fiber is plentiful in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes (like beans and lentils). Eating a diet high in fiber helps curb your appetite and keeps the body's digestive system in check. Fiber has additional functions; insoluble fiber from nuts, seeds and whole grains helps prevent constipation, while soluble fiber from foods like oats, apples, nuts and berries can help lower cholesterol. Aim to get at least 25 grams of fiber each day. Learn more about your daily fiber needs.
Learn to Love Low-Fat Dairy
Help Yourself to Healthy Fats
Shake Off Some Salt
The daily recommendation for sodium is 2,300 milligrams a day for healthy adults — that's about 1 teaspoon. Since too much sodium can aggravate high blood pressure and kidney disease, people who suffer from these conditions should cap their salt intake to 1,500 milligrams or less. Sadly, many Americans take in closer to 4,700 milligrams per day. Since much of the sodium in Americans' diets comes from processed foods, cooking fresh food at home can help you cut back on sodium dramatically. Use herbs and spices to boost flavor and always choose low-sodium versions of canned soups, broths and sauces.
Opt for Omega-3 Fats
Extra pounds and inactivity can put stress on the heart and create other health problems. Exercise is key for heart health and weight management, so aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Not only will it help you shed some pounds, it can also help raise your "good" cholesterol.