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Tips to have a healthy heart

Heart disease may be the leading cause of death for both men and women, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as your fate. Although you lack the power to change some risk factors — such as family history or age — there are some key heart disease prevention steps you can take.

– Don’t smoke or use tobacco products : Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,800 chemicals. Many of these can damage your heart and blood vessels, making them more vulnerable to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to a heart attack. In addition, the nicotine in cigarette smoke makes your heart work harder by narrowing your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This increases your blood pressure by forcing your heart to work harder to supply enough oxygen.
The good news, though, is that when you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year.
– Exercise : Physical activity helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It also reduces stress, which may also be a factor in heart disease.
– Eat a heart-healthy diet : Ideally aim for a diet containing about 25 percent calories from fat, divided as follows: polyunsaturated fat (10 percent), monounsaturated (10 percent) saturated/trans fats (no more than 5 percent). Major sources of saturated fat include beef, butter, cheese, milk, and coconut and palm oils. Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat (intake should be approx 10 percent), may decrease your risk of heart attack, protect against irregular heartbeats and lower blood pressure. Foods high in polyunsaturated fat include corn oil, safflower and sunflower oil, nuts, seeds and some fish. Foods containing polyunsaturated fat are best eaten cold or lightly cooked.
– Soy foods contain beneficial protein — 25 grams of soy protein per day may help reduce risk of heart disease. Substitute soy milk for skim milk, choose tofu or tempeh daily, snack on soy nuts or enjoy a smoothie made with soy milk and fruit.
– Limit sodium intake to 2400 milligrams a day.
– Eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
– Avoid foods containing trans-fatty acids.
– Blood clots : Blood clots can block or stem the blood flow, causing a heart attack. So foods which contain chemicals which prevent blood clotting can protect against heart disease. These include naturally oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon.
– Fibre : Fibre has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and may therefore reduce the risk of heart disease. Foods high in fibre include cereal crops such as oats, pasta, bread and potatoes.
– Maintain a healthy weight.
– Get regular health screenings.

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