You are Never Too Old to Start Taking Care of your Heart

Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States, taking the lives of more than 2,150 Americans each day. On average, 37 percent of American adults have two or more risk factors for developing heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

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Unlike the emergence of wrinkles and gray hair, what you can’t see as you get older is the impact aging has on your heart. This is why it’s important, to take extra steps to care for your heart. With age comes an increased risk for heart disease and your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers tend to rise if you don’t take the proper precautions.

Though some of us are born with a genetic predisposition for heart disease, that doesn't mean it's inevitable. You can prevent the onset of heart disease in many ways — and keep it from worsening if you have been diagnosed with a specific heart issue.

Preventing heart disease (and all cardiovascular diseases) means making smart choices now that will pay off the rest of your life. Lack of exercise, a poor diet and other unhealthy habits can take their toll over the years.

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Anyone at any age can benefit from simple steps to keep their heart healthy - Here’s how:

Choose a healthy eating plan.

The food you eat can decrease your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Select foods that are low in saturated fat, trans-fat, and sodium.  Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and fiber-rich whole grains – for example oatmeal, barley, quinoa, and brown rice; beans and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and fruit.  Eat fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week or take a fish oil supplement to decrease triglyceride levels), and try eating some meals without meat.  If you choose to eat meat, select skinless, and the leanest cuts available. Most of the cholesterol-raising saturated fat in the American diet comes from animal meat and full-fat dairy products.

Limit sugar, this includes sweetened beverages. Unsweetened green tea is a great alternative. Eating a more vegetarian fare may help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. Remember, plant foods contain fiber, and animal foods do not. On the contrary, animal foods contain cholesterol, and plant foods do not. Try adding fresh garlic to your meals; it can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Be physically active – On a regular basis.  

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Staying fit can improve your heart health in countless ways, such as helping to lower blood pressure, manage your weight, lower cholesterol, control your blood sugar, and even reduce stress. I suggest finding a workout buddy, that way you're more likely to be consistent.

Watch your weight.

Your body needs fewer calories as you get older. Excess weight causes your heart to work harder and increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Exercising regularly and eating smaller portions of nutrient-rich foods may help you maintain a healthy weight. Carrying too much weight is a key risk factor for heart disease, and it affects the majority of Americans. Obesity also puts you at risk for other health problems related to heart disease, like stroke and diabetes. The magical thing is, when you lose the weight, that all starts to correct itself: Blood pressure comes down, glucose comes down, and 'good' cholesterol levels go up. This can happen by losing just 15 pounds, depending on your body type.

Read Labels

Following a heart-healthy diet means watching your sodium, sugar, and fat intake, since these are tied to heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In general, packaged foods aren't as healthy or fresh, so it's important to read food labels to really understand what you're eating. I teach you how: there is a lot of marketing language to read through these days (coming from a previous marketer). Many times the full-fat version of a food is actually better for you because the low-fat or nonfat versions often have a similar calorie level, but far more sugar.

In short, taking the above preventative measures, watching your numbers closely and managing any health problems that arise — along with the essential healthy eating and exercise — can help you live longer and better.

Take action for your heart today! Schedule you FREE health evaluation with Crystal to explore creating your healthiest, happiest, most energetic life – call 602.722.5627, email cjarvie@healthstyles4you.com.



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