The Heart of Good Health
Healthy eating is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Making smart food choices can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. The good news is, eating right doesn’t have to be hard or require a special diet.
You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods may have minerals, protein, whole grains or other nutrients but have fewer calories. They may help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Make sure your diet includes:
- a variety of fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- low-fat dairy products
- skinless poultry and fish
- nuts and legumes
- non-tropical vegetable oils
Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.
The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you're trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. You could use your daily allotment of calories on a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you probably wouldn’t get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Read Nutrition Facts labels carefully — the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of nutrients in a food or beverage.
Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose, and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness. If it’s hard to schedule regular exercise sessions, try aiming for multiple sessions of at least 10 minutes spread throughout the week.
If you would benefit from lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think! Make these simple steps part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.
This information is courtesy of the American Heart Association, an independent company that offers health education information on behalf of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.