Heart disease is the leading cause of death in North America accounting for 1 in every 3 deaths. However, most of the risk factors that contribute to heart disease can be prevented. Get heart-smart with nutrition, exercise, and well-being tips that can reverse common problems such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Increase fruit and vegetable consumption. The more, the better! Aim to have at least 1-2 servings of vegetables per meal.
Choose lean proteins. Focus on healthy proteins like poultry and fish. These proteins are low in saturated fat. Limit red meat and processed meat (hot dogs, deli meats, sausages, jerky, bacon, ham etc.). Incorporate more plant-based proteins like beans and legumes.
Reduce alcohol consumption. Limit alcohol as much as possible. Men: no more than 1-2 drinks per day. Women: no more than 1 drink per day
Cut back on processed foods. Processed foods are higher in salt, sugar and inflammatory vegetable oils. Cook from scratch whenever possible and choose processed foods as an occasional treat.
Include heart healthy fats. Choose oils like avocado, olive, and sesame most often for heart health benefits.
Be more active. Physical activity is essential for preventing, managing, and reversing heart disease. While it is ideal to combine strength, cardio, and flexibility, the key is to simply move more choosing any activity you enjoy.
Walk, garden, swim, dance, lift weights, or follow an online class. Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of activity per week and have fun!
In addition to what you eat and how active you are, heart health is largely determined by your mental health. Persistent stress, depression, anxiety, sadness, and anger can all have an impact on your heart. In fact, people who report high levels of emotional distress and depression, may be more likely to have a stroke or heart attack.
Invest in your mental health and reduce stress by trying some of these healthy coping strategies:
Connect with others. Speak to family and friends, volunteer in your community, take a walk with a friend or enroll in a new course. Spending time with others enriches your life, increases feelings of connection and reduces stress.
Sleep well. Mental health, heart disease and sleep are all related. A good night’s rest reduces cortisol levels and can help us better manage our stress. Sleep also lowers blood pressure and may decrease the risk of depression.
Be more mindful. Try the “5 senses exercise” Take time to reset during your busy day to notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Grounding yourself can help you to slow down, get out of your head and stay in the present moment.