Losing just 5%–10% of your body weight can make a big difference—and many studies have shown you can also significantly lower your risk of heart problems by losing inches around your middle.
Did you know that whereyour body stores those extra pounds matters for your heart health, too?
“A thicker waistline increases heart attack risk,” says Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the New York University Langone Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health.
Stomach fat is linked to high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and raised levels of triglycerides , a type of fat in your blood. “All of these are major risk factors for heart disease,” Goldberg says.
The heart needs exercise just like any other muscle. Muscles that are utilized regularly become stronger and healthier, whereas muscles that aren’t used weaken and atrophy. When it’s exercised, the heart can pump more blood through the body and continue working at optimal efficiency with little strain. This will likely help it to stay healthy longer.
Regular exercise also helps to keep arteries and other blood vessels flexible, ensuring good blood flow and normal blood pressure.
A healthy weight is important, but it is also crucial to eat foods that are nutritious and provide your body with the necessary nutrients.
- Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars. Replace high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.
- Choose fiber-rich whole grains for most grain servings.
- Choose poultry and fish without skin and prepare them in healthy ways without added saturated and transfat. If you choose to eat meat, look for the leanest cuts available and prepare them in healthy and delicious ways.
- Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring).
- Select fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1%) dairy products.
- Avoid foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
- Limit saturated fat and trans fat and replace them with the better fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. If you need to lower your blood cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further. If you can’t meet these goals right now, even reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day can benefit blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and no more than two drinks per day if you’re a man.
What supplements are important for a healthy heart?