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Heart Disease Health Center

Heart Health Tips From a Top Cardiologist

Cut through the heart health confusion. Get tips from a cardiologist about diet, lifestyle, and more.
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5 Simple Steps to a Heart Healthy Diet continued...

One way to make sure that your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber, and low in saturated fats, is to divide your plate at each meal: half vegetables, 1/4 high-quality protein (like legumes -- terrific sources of protein and great for a healthy heart!), and 1/4 for fish or a very lean meat.

And remember, you should get your nutrients from foods themselves, the antioxidants and other heart-healthy goodies found in foods like blueberries, beans, and artichokes don't pack the same punch when they're not in food form.

And avoid fad diets, advises Mosca. "Almost every one may result in short-term weight loss but leave you weighing even more a year later, and preventing weight gain is one of the best ways to prevent developing heart disease risk factors."

Is Your Exercise Routine Really Helping You Have a Healthy Heart?

It's easy to get discouraged about exercise: It's hard to fit into a busy lifestyle. The people at the gym look like they spend hours there. You haven't run a mile since college. But no excuses -- like eating right, getting the exercise your heart needs is easier than it looks.

If you're not overweight, all you need to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more times a week. And you don't have to do it all at once -- 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening are just fine.

"Getting that amount of exercise has substantial benefits for your heart," says Mosca. Just how much is hard to quantify, but research shows that being physically inactive is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease.

And exercise is the gift that keeps on giving. That's because regular, moderate exercise also helps:

  • Control blood pressure
  • Prevent diabetes
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels

If you need to lose weight, it's going to take a little more effort. "For weight management, we want low to moderate intensity activities for 60 minutes per day," says Mosca. "The only way to really lose weight is to decrease calories in and increase calories out, and what works best is a modest approach to both. If you just reduce your caloric intake, for example, your body slows its metabolism to compensate."

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