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5 Great Tips to Take Today for a Healthier Heart Come Tomorrow

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If you want to keep your heart strong and healthy well for many years to come, the go-to word is: Prevention. And that includes people of all ages ― especially young adults who can develop healthy lifestyle habits early to protect themselves from heart disease risk throughout their lives.

Here are 5 simple tips from the American Heart Association that will help you to dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease:

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1. Get Moving

About 2 and a half hours of mild physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, per week is just what your entire cardiovascular system needs. Regular exercise can lower blood pressure, control your weight, and increase your “good” cholesterol levels. You’ll also reduce bone loss, sleep better, and help keep blood sugar levels under control.

2. Eat Smart

Eliminating foods with empty calories (junk food) in favor of lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables is the gift that keeps on giving to your heart. Nutritionist Penny Kris-Etherton recommends that half the food on your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Along with vitamins and minerals, they contain phytonutrients that may help reduce the buildup of fatty deposits in your artery walls. And don’t forget fatty, oily fish like fresh-caught salmon. Two to three servings per week can help decrease your risk of abnormal heartbeats, reduce triglycerides and even slow the growth of arterial plaque.

3. Drop the Extra Pounds

Losing as little as 10 pounds helps reduce your risk for heart disease. Extra fat, especially around the belly increases your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. For long-lasting weight loss success, do it the smart way by increasing your activity level while reducing the calories you take in. A healthy goal is two pounds per month.

4. Manage Blood Pressure

The “silent killer,” or hypertension, affects an alarming 1 in 3 American adults, and many are not even aware their blood pressure is elevated. If you have been prescribed blood pressure medication, take it regularly. If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, make an appointment with your doctor. Remember that lifestyle habits have a major effect on blood pressure levels. Reducing stress, eating heart-healthy, staying physically active and even coloring can help calm your mind and keep your pressure in the healthy range.

5. Control Diabetes

Did you know that diabetes quadruples your risk of heart disease? So don’t forget that a healthy diet and regular exercise can help keep your blood glucose levels in the normal range. By reducing blood sugar, you’ll help to preserve your eyesight and keep your kidneys and nervous system healthy as well.

For most people, cardiovascular health comes down to heart-smart choices ― and you’re never too young or too old to start. Your heart will thank you by serving you well for a lifetime.

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