To Be Heart Healthy

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Contrary to what many believe, 99 percent of conditions of heart disease are completely preventable through changes in lifestyle and diet, according to experts. The trick is to keep away from saturated fats like animal fats and whole fat dairy products. When you eat these fats, you raise the LDL cholesterol in your diet and you cause cholesterol plaques in your arteries, leading to stroke, peripheral vascular disease and heart disease.

The good fats in your diet, by eating things like avocadoes, olive oil and other polyunsaturated fats, actually lower your LDL level and raise the good HDL cholesterol level. Eating foods like soybeans, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and certain fish, can prevent heart disease. Salt must also be reduced if you have a strong family history of heart disease or have a history of high blood pressure. You also need to treat diabetes if you have it and stop smoking. Exercise is also a good thing to get involved with.

The key to treating heart disease is prevention of the disease in the first place. It begins by eating right and ends with quitting smoking and exercising. One important thing to do is to look at your family history. If there is a history of stroke and heart disease, you need to be more cautious and work hard to prevent these conditions through healthy eating and exercise. High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. It can be treated with medications and can be helped through a low salt and low fat diet. Remember, not all fats are bad and you must select those fats that increase your HDL cholesterol level.

Eating refined carbohydrates are not good for you as they also contain a great deal of animal fat or saturated fats. These will increase the LDL cholesterol. Instead, stick with cold water ocean fish, food cooked in vegetable oil, and fruits and vegetables.

You should get your blood pressure checked at least once per year and a cholesterol panel checked every three years if you’re low risk—oftener if you’re at high risk or are on cholesterol lowering medications. These two things alone can temper your risk of heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Adding exercise to the mix can only improve your chances of staying healthy even further.