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6 Heart Health Tips From a Top Cardiologist

3. Go old-school with food. continued...

Don’t offset the benefits of these foods by frying them or smothering them in butter or cheese. That will raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol that clogs your arteries.

What about meat? You can still have some, but limit how much and avoid fatty cuts.

“We don’t have solid evidence that vegans live longer than vegetarians, or that vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters,” Montgomery says. “But we do know that eating low levels of red meat and high levels of lean meats and fish is a way to optimize your heart health.”

4. Stop smoking… everything.

You probably know that smoking tobacco makes you more likely to get heart disease. What may surprise you is that smoking marijuana is also bad for your heart. 

“We can’t say that it’s equally bad,” Montgomery says. “But it’s worse than people probably realize.”

5. Learn the fine art of chilling out.

Stress happens! As Montgomery points out, the problem is not the circumstances that cause stress as much as how we respond.

When we’re under pressure, our body ramps up adrenaline, which can overwork our hearts. One way to help is to hop on the treadmill or roll out your yoga mat. Exercise trains your body how to handle stress, Montgomery says.

If stress gets to be too much, talk to someone, whether it’s a trusted friend or a professional counselor.

6. Shut down.

Sleep is when our body reboots and recovers. That’s important for all aspects of our health, not just the heart. “You can’t feel good if you’re not restoring yourself,” Montgomery says.

When you’re asleep, your heart rate and blood pressure go down. That gives your heart a much-need break. Without it, you’re stressed and you’ll crave fuel from high-calorie foods -- which, let’s face it, are not heart-healthy.

So make it a priority to be well-rested. You’ll be ready to face whatever the day may bring.

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Reviewed on April 27, 2015

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