Today’s steady stream of health headlines, scientific studies and expert advice can be confusing. For example – are eggs good for you or bad? Should you be drinking more wine or less?
Don’t give up on staying on top of the latest info, but don’t let it confuse you either. If a healthy heart is your goal, try starting with these five basic steps.
Get your blood work done.
A simple blood test called a lipid panel can help determine your risk of cardiovascular disease before symptoms appear. If it has been five or more years since you’ve had this test, ask your doctor to request it.
When the results come in, talk with your doctor about them. It’s important to know what these numbers mean because they’ll provide clues about lifestyle changes you might need to make.
Cut trans fats from your diet
We need fats in our diet, but trans fats are bad news. These manmade fats clog your arteries. What should you look for?
Read the labels when grocery shopping. Look for “0 grams trans fat” in the Nutrition Information section, but don’t stop there. Check the list of ingredients too. Trans fats go by the aliases “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.”
There’s a reason exercise makes almost every health tip list. It works. Getting up and moving around once in a while, instead of staying seated for long periods of time, has been proven to help.
You need to be realistic about which exercises are best for you, but most of us should be doing more. Click here for three exercises that will help you be heart healthy.
If you smoke, quit. The risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. If you’re around other people who smoke, ask the to not smoke around you or get away.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep
It sounds easy, right? But one-third of Americans sleep less than six hours each night. That’s worrisome considering that another study of adults over the age of 45 showed that people who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack. Make your Zs a priority!
There will always be more advice and studies to consider, but building on these five basic principles is a good way to start.