Scientist Stacey Kendrick at the Vanderbilt University has compiled a list of the following things, which if followed can ensure a healthier heart-
1. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10 percent of our daily calories should contain saturated fat and to try to take in as little trans fat as possible. Reduce the saturated and trans fat intake by choosing lean meats such as chicken breast, pork tenderloin and fish, and reduced or fat-free dairy products. Avoid processed foods and baked products, which tend to contain a lot of trans fats.
2. Having a healthy weight is important because obesity increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Instead of going on a diet, think about making healthy changes in your lifestyle. Be active everyday and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Even a 5-10 percent weight loss can lead to a healthier heart.
3. Use oils that are lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol- such as canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil. Use oils sparingly, because they contain 120 calories per tablespoon. A squeeze of lemon juice can add a flavorful addition without added calories or fat.
4. Presence of plant-based nutrients called flavonoids, which are found in chocolate, red wine and coffee, have potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot. Aim for a moderate 1-ounce portion of dark chocolate and avoid choices containing added caramel, marshmallow or other ingredients that make it less than heart smart.
5. Eating home cooked meals instead of dining out is a great way to eat a more heart healthy diet because you can have more control over how food is prepared. Try altering preparation methods such as baking instead of frying, using herbs instead of salt for a flavor boost and adding low-fat instead of full-fat cheese.
6. Aim for three sessions of 10-minute bouts of activity each day, which is proven to be effective. Take a brisk walk before work or during breaks, walk in the mall or take the stairs.
7. Excessive salt intake can raise blood pressure, leading to an increased risk for heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) guideline for salt intake is 1,500 milligrams per day. Rinsing canned foods such as vegetables, tuna and beans with water can reduce the sodium content by up to 40 percent.
8. According to the AHA, adopting a more physically active lifestyle can be just as effective as some anti-hypertensive medications. Physical activity can also boost your levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and keep weight within the recommended range. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity aerobic activity each day.
9. Start a regular physical activity program to reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. If you have been inactive for a long time or have a chronic health condition check with your health care provider first, and then find an activity you enjoy doing. You will be more likely to stick with it in the long term. Gardening, walking, dancing and swimming are all great options to remain active.