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Keeping Your Heart Strong and Healthy Is Easier Than You Think

Keeping Your Heart StrongControlling your weight with regular exercise is imperative for a healthy heart, but it is also important to eat right. By adopting heart healthy diet and physical activity routine, you can prevent or manage heart disease.

Importance of heart-healthy food choices
The food you eat can affect the way blood flows through your heart and arteries. A diet high in “bad” fats (saturated and trans fats) and cholesterol can gradually cause buildup (called plaque) in your arteries. That buildup slows down blood flow and can eventually block your arteries. If the blockage happens in an artery that carries blood to the heart muscle, a heart attack can occur. If the blockage happens in an artery that carries blood to the brain, a stroke can occur. The right diet can help keep your arteries clear and will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Keeping your heart healthy by making healthier food choices isn’t as hard as it sounds!

Tips for a heart-healthy diet
• Eat less saturated and trans fats. These fats are found in foods such as butter, coconut and palm oil, saturated or hydrogenated vegetable fats such as Crisco, animal fats in meats and fats in whole milk dairy products.

• Whole-grain breads are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, so choose these breads instead of white breads for sandwiches and as additions to meals.

• Eat fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in fat. Not only do they add flavor and variety to your diet, but they also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals.

• Baking, broiling and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare meat and poultry. Trim any outside fat or skin before cooking. Lean cuts can be pan-broiled or stir-fried. Use either a nonstick pan or nonstick cooking spray instead of butter or margarine.

• Dry beans, peas and lentils offer protein and fiber without the cholesterol and fat that meats have. Once in a while, try substituting beans for meat in a favorite recipe, such as lasagna or chili.

• Choose low- or nonfat versions of milk, yogurt and cheese products. Eat no more than 4 egg yolks a week (use egg whites or egg substitutes).

heart. Losing weight can help your heart stay healthy. If you need to lose weight, remember that losing just 10% of your body weight will reduce your risks for diabetes and heart disease.

Get up and get moving to prevent heart disease
Exercise makes your heart stronger, which helps it pump more blood with each heartbeat. This delivers more oxygen to your body, which helps it function more efficiently.

Exercise can also lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease and reduce levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), which can clog the arteries and can cause a heart attack. At the same time, exercise can raise levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol), which helps protect against a heart attack by carrying fatty deposits out of the arteries.

When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can speed up weight loss. Regular exercise also helps you burn calories faster, even when you’re sitting still, because exercise builds lean muscle (which burns more calories than fat).

It is as easy as taking a walk
Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe more deeply and makes your heart work harder to pump blood. Aerobic exercise also raises your heart rate (which also burns calories). Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, running, dancing, swimming and bicycling. If you are intimidated by exercising, the best thing you can do is take those first few steps. Start out by walking slowly increasing the pace and distance as you get stronger. It doesn’t matter how fast or how long you walk, the important thing is that you get moving.

In general, if you haven’t been exercising, try to work up to 30 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Your doctor may recommend a different exercise regimen based on your health.

Fitting exercise into your daily routine is easy
There are lots of ways to raise your heart rate during your regular day. Some examples include:
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Walk during a coffee break or lunch.
• Walk to work, or park at the end of the parking lot so you have to walk farther.
• Walk more briskly.
• Do housework at a quicker pace and more often (for example, vacuuming every day).
• Do yard work.

There are some heart disease risk factors you can’t control, such as your age or health problems of your parents. However, some risk factors are related to your lifestyle, such as smoking, being overweight, and having an unhealthy diet. These lifestyle factors may increase your risk of developing heart disease. And these same risk factors will cause heart disease to get worse if you already have it.

Luckily, the opposite is true as well. Adopting a heart-healthy diet and a healthier lifestyle can improve your health, even if you already have high blood pressure or other forms of heart disease. Don’t become victim to a disease that is preventable. There’s no better time than today to start making healthy lifestyle changes.

It’s your heart.
It should be
personal.
And that’s how I treat it.

When you come to see me… that’s exactly who you will see. I will know your name, how many children you have, what foods you love to eat and how much sleep you get each night. I will take your health personally. That is why I am the only doctor you will see when you come to my office. I will take time with you and get to know you personally. No patient of mine will ever have to see an associate or undergo needless testing. I will know which tests are needed and which aren’t. I will watch over you and treat you as I want to be treated when, one day, I am the patient and not the doctor. And that is my promise to you.

Dr. Vallabhan – (352) 750-2040

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