Healthy Start for a Healthy Heart
Research shows that following a healthy
eating plan and exercise routine can reduce the risk of developing high blood
pressure and lower an already elevated blood pressure. Eating plans such as the
Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, or “DASH”, emphasize the following
changes to help you start taking care of your heart.
Eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
you are already eating 1-2 fruits and vegetables a day, try to add another
serving with your meals. If you don’t
eat any fruits or vegetables now, or you drink only juice, try adding a serving
of fresh fruits or vegetables to your meals or have it as a snack. Use fresh,
frozen, or no-salt added canned fruits and vegetables. For a quick and healthy
snack, carry dried fruits with you.
Eat as least 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products per
example, drink milk with lunch or dinner instead of soda, sugar sweetened tea
or alcohol. Choose low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) dairy products, such as
cheese and yogurt, to reduce your intake of saturated fat, total fat,
cholesterol, and calories.
Limit salt and sodium in your diet.
Most American adults (and
children too!) are eating too much sodium.
Eating too much sodium increases your risk for high blood pressure which
is a major contributor to heart disease and stroke. A great way to cut back on
salt and sodium is to prepare foods at home versus eating out. Experiment with fresh herbs to add flavor
instead of salt. Check out suggestions
from the National Institute of Health on ways to enjoy food without all the
salt: https://healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov/default.aspx If you must eat out, try
to avoid the foods that contain sodium overload like breads and rolls, cold
cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese and pasta
to the DASH recommendations, other heart healthy strategies you could try include:
Increase physical activity.
Aim for 30 minutes of
physical activity every day. Even
breaking up your activity into 10-minute intervals can make a huge
difference. Try taking a class like
yoga, Zumba or kick-boxing to add something new to your routine. Adding resistance training can also help with
weight-control and increase bone density.
Regular exercise will give you more energy throughout the day, help you
sleep better at night, and reduce stress.
a sample workout at Physical Activity for
Everyone: Adding Physical Activity to Your Life | DNPAO | CDC
Tobacco is the leading
preventable cause of death in the U.S. Get help. Tell family, friends, and co-workers that
you’re going to quit and you need their support. Do things and go places where
smoking isn’t allowed such as libraries, museums and shopping malls. Free
telephone counseling is available through the Virginia Department of Health at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Whatever you do, don’t give up. More information can be found on http://www.vdh.state.va.us/ofhs/prevention/tucp/quitNow.htm
Be sure to check with your
doctor before starting any new eating plan or exercise routine.
For more information on how to be heart
healthy, go to: