Heart Disease Prevention

The key to preventing heart disease is managing the risk factors. People can lower their chances of heart disease, even after having a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem.

Get a routine heart check

Take the first steps to healthy heart care. Check with your primary care doctor or family health care provider for a routine heart check.

 If you need to see a heart specialist known as a cardiologist, your family health care provider can give you a referral.

Learn your heart disease risk factors

When you visit your doctor or health care provider, you likely will be asked about your lifestyle and family history to learn your risk factors for heart disease.

  • Men are at risk of heart disease at a younger age than women. But women have equal risk after menopause.

  • If family members have had a heart attack or heart disease, you are more likely to have one yourself.

  • As you age, your risk of heart disease goes up.

The following are risk factors for heart disease that people can manage or change:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising
  • Smoking or secondhand smoke
  • Having diabetes
  • Stress

Do you have questions about heart health?

Connect with a Health Educator, and ask your questions.

We’re here for you. We can help.

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Make heart healthy choices

Simple and easy changes in your diet and lifestyle can have a profound and positive impact on your heart health.  Get started today on becoming more active and making your diet healthy -- and tasty, too!
 

Get moving

Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. This could be walking, biking, swimming or doing yard work. Choose an activity that you like. n Be tobacco-free. Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Stay away from secondhand smoke. 

5 tips to better heart health

  1. Avoid trendy diets. Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is.
  2. Be physically active most days of the week. Talk with your healthcare team about a plan that will work for you.
  3. Vitamin pills and other supplements should not replace a healthy diet.
  4. Skip sugary drinks. Most have lots of calories with little or no nutritional value. Choose water or 1% low-fat or nonfat milk instead.
  5. Stop eating before you feel full.

Let's get started: Dividing your plate

  • Fruits and vegetables first: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Try different kinds to keep it interesting. The more colorful your choices, the better. Add slightly more vegetables to your plate than fruit.

  • Add in your grains. Make at least half of your grains whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice. This will help you stay regular and healthy.

  • Proteins. Choose a variety of protein foods, such as fish or lean poultry or lean meat. Beans and other legumes are also good choices.

  • Dairy: Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk. This includes cheese and yogurt.

Just what are whole grains?

Eating whole grains may reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Why?

Whole grains are an important source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, all of which promote good health.

Fiber helps make you feel fuller longer than other foods and supports digestive health by helping to keep you regular. Foods high in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, are

also lower in calories.

Healthy whole-grain foods include the entire grain seed. Unfortunately, when grains are made into flour, much of the fiber is removed. This is the case with white flour and cornmeal.

Snacks and fast foods, as well as many breads and some bran products, may not contain whole grains.

Examples of whole grains include:

Bulgur wheat (cracked wheat)

  • Brown rice
  • Corn and popcorn
  • Whole cornmeal
  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Wheat berries
  • Whole-wheat pasta

 

Keep it colorful

Fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods. Like whole grains, fruits and vegetables have fiber, vitamins and minerals. People who eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily are less likely to be overweight and develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. They also are less likely to suffer a stroke.

 Eat fruits and veggies from different color groups

It is best to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from different color groups every day. For example:

  • Dark green: broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, other green

leafy vegetables

  • Orange: carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangoes,

oranges, peaches

  •  Red: tomatoes, apples, watermelon, strawberries, beets, cherries, red peppers
  • And many more: Think about what other colors you could choose from!

Other healthy vegetable choices include beans and peas. Examples include:

  • Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils

Protein's powerful punch

Protein builds and maintains the tissues and muscles in your body. Your organs and immune system are made up mostly of protein. It is also a part of your bones, skin and blood. Another plus for protein is that it digests slowly, so you may feel full for longer.

Eat a variety of foods containing protein

The following are animal sources of protein:

  • Fish and other seafood

  • Poultry (turkey, chicken)

  • Meat (pork, beef, lamb, veal, venison)

  • Eggs

  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products (cheese, yogurt)

Plant-based foods that are high in protein include:

  • Dried beans and dried peas

  • Nuts

  • Soy products, such as tofu

An important difference among foods in the protein group is how much saturated fat (unhealthy fat) and total fat they contain, and how they are prepared. A healthy meal includes proteins low in saturated fat, called lean protein.

Great protein source when you're on the go

On the go? Nuts are easy to carry, ready to eat and include unsaturated fats (healthy fats) and fiber. Healthy choices include unsalted almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and pistachios. Remember, nuts contain a lot of calories. Limit your portions.

 

Got dairy?

Dairy products are a good source of protein, calcium, potassium and other vitamins and minerals that support good health. Eating potassium- and calcium-rich foods is key to building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. An added benefit is that most dairy products are low-cost.

Eating a variety of dairy products will benefit your health. Nonfat and low-fat options are the healthiest choices. Remember, 2% milk products are NOT low-fat. Healthy dairy choices include nonfat or 1% low-fat choices from these foods.

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Frozen yogurt and ice cream

Can’t digest milk products?

Try low-fat soy milk or lactose-free milk products. Nondairy choices, such as almond and rice drinks, are also available. Be sure to choose those products with vitamins and calcium added.

Don’t drink milk? Eat other calcium-rich foods, such as nonfat or low-fat cheese and yogurt, calcium-fortified juices and cereals, sardines, beans (legumes) and spinach and other dark leafy greens.

On the go? Grab a bottle of nonfat or low-fat milk instead of soda or juice. Nonfat and low-fat yogurt now come in ready-to-go packages. Stir in some tasty low-fat granola or dried fruit to add more flavor.

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