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Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits
A Well-Intentioned Rant Concerning Our Social Dissolution As a society we are finding ever more inventive ways to hurdle ourselves to depths of depravity once …. The worldwide low thyroid function epidemic is getting more and more press these days. Americans eat more salt and other forms of sodium than they need. Certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for CHD. Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States. You know how important your heart is, so it's no wonder people worry when they hear someone has heart problems. Free E-newsletter Subscribe to Housecall Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.

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7 of the Best Heart-Healthy Foods That Also Prevent Cancer

When you choose low-fat or fat-free dairy, you get little to no saturated fat , the kind of fat that can raise your cholesterol. Most fruits and vegetables also have some potassium, Johnson says. Bananas, oranges, and potatoes are especially good sources. If you buy canned beans, look for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties sodium can raise your blood pressure. Rinse them in water to wash off any added salt.

Eggplant, okra, apples, and pears are also good choices for soluble fiber. Oats have a type of fiber called beta-glucan that lowers your LDL cholesterol. One and a half cups of cooked oatmeal or a little over a cup of cooked barley gives you the amount of beta-glucan you need daily to help lower your cholesterol. You can also find beta-glucan in barley, shiitake mushrooms, and seaweed. A cornerstone of the traditional Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a great pick when you need to limit saturated fat found in meat, whole milk, and butter.

Cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made, is rich in flavanols, which can help lower your blood pressure and prevent blood clots. Sugar raises your risk of heart disease. Think beyond the bar. Choose natural cocoa powder over Dutch-processed to get more flavanols. For a totally unsweetened take, try cacao nibs. Add them to your granola. Use mashed avocado as a spread in place of butter, or add cubes of it to salad, or over black bean chili.

As delicious as they are, avocados are high in calories, so keep your portions modest. Nut butters are great on whole-grain toast instead of butter. Use unsalted, natural options to avoid added salt, sugar, and hydrogenated fats found in other forms of peanut butter, Johnson says.

These juicy fruits have resveratrol, which helps keep platelets in your blood from sticking together. That may partly be why red wine -- in moderation 1 glass for women, 2 for men -- may have some heart-healthy advantages over other types of alcohol.

Love your nightly glass of wine? You can ask your doctor to make sure your serving size is OK for you. And feel free to go for grapes straight from the vine anytime. So add these items to your shopping cart: Limiting sugar in your diet can lower you blood sugar level to prevent or help control diabetes.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease. To determine if your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate your body mass index BMI. Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to calculate excess body fat. They may use special equipment to calculate excess body fat and hydration status. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels.

For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease.

If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1.

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