Taking care of your heart can be one of the most important health choices you make in your lifetime. Choosing heart healthy foods and leading an active lifestyle are two very important actions that you can take to living a long, healthy life. Nutrient dense foods, like fruits and vegetables, contain fiber and potassium, which are both good for heart health. Potassium from fruit and vegetable sources can be important for managing blood pressure. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables to help increase your intake. Unsaturated fats, from sources like unsalted nuts, have been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol when substituted for saturated fats. The lower your cholesterol levels, the better condition your heart will be in. Choose low fat or fat free dairy in place of full fat options. Dairy foods have calcium that is needed for blood vessel and bone health. (https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart)
Physical activity promotes heart health and helps to achieve overall fitness, which can improve quality of life as we age. According to the American Heart Association, individuals who are at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes and are physically active have lower death rates than those are not physically active with no risks. Individuals with heart disease who are physically active have been shown to have fewer heart attacks and live longer than those who are not physically fit.
What type of physical activity is best for you? Any activity that you like to do and challenges your muscles beyond what is normal is best. If you like a particular activity, no matter if it is dancing during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV episode or spending the afternoon working in your backyard or garden, dedicate time to it daily to increase physical activity throughout the day. For adults, it’s recommended to achieve 150 minutes of physical activity weekly for health benefits. Walking briskly, slow jogging, dancing, and swimming are all exercises that can be done to increase your daily physical activity. For more information please visit: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/getting-active.