Heart Health Tips

Manage Your Waistline

Understanding your personal risk of heart disease is the first step toward prevention. Your waistline is a much better predictor of future heart risk than your weight. If the inch-total is heading north, revamp your diet by cutting out sweeteners, both real and artificial, and all packaged products made with flour. If that's not enough, try counting calories – there are dozens of smartphone apps that make the process easy.

Eat Fatty, Cold-Water Fish

Your risk of heart disease is rooted in inflammation: high levels of whole-body inflammation must be brought down. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.Be sure to have at least two servings of fatty, cold-water fish weekly. The best sources: wild-caught salmon, halibut, herring and sardines.

Practice Regular Aerobic Exercise

Your heart is a muscle. Like the muscles of your arms and legs, it benefits from exercise. Enhance your cardiovascular health by incorporating regular aerobic exercise into your life. Start by walking whenever you have a free 10 or 15 minutes, and gradually work up to more intense forms of "cardio" like using a rowing machine, bicycling, or doing yoga or tai chi.

Sweat the Carbs, Not the Fat

While genetics play a role, your daily lifestyle choices are the predominant factor in determining the health of your heart. In particular, making smart nutrition choices should be a top priority. Recent studies show that the best course is to lower consumption of refined carbohydrates in the form of sweeteners and flours of all kinds (whole wheat flour is not much better than white; both kinds can spike blood sugar). While overconsumption of saturated fats isn't wise either, your first step toward heart health should be minding your carb sources.

Moderate Stress

Short bouts of stress come with living daily life, but chronic daily stress can be a killer. Optimal heart health requires being aware of stress, and taking steps to lower it before it compromises your cardiovascular system. Practice deeper, more regular and slower breaths for periods of time every day, work on getting a consistent full night's sleep and take regular walks in nature to help keep stress at bay.