Q: What are some simple diet and exercise tips to improve heart health?
A: There are many ways you can keep your heart healthy. Some examples include:
- Choose skim or one percent fat milk and nonfat or low-fat yogurt and cheeses.
- Eat five or more servings of fruits or vegetables per day.
- Drink plenty of water and stay away from sugary beverages, such as soda.
- Try to follow a Mediterranean diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, fish and other good sources of protein.
- Limit red meat to no more than a few times a month.
- Park your car at the far end of the parking lot. The short walk to and from the store or school helps your heart.
- If you ride a bus or subway, get off a stop before your destination. Walk the rest of the way.
- If you can, spend a few minutes of your lunch break taking a stroll around the campus grounds. It should help you stay awake after lunch.
- Look for sources of good cholesterol in almonds, or unsalted pistachios.
- Frequent small meals and keeping hydrated usually results in fewer calories ingested over the course of the day. This is better than prolonged fasting, with larger meals.
- If you have a dog, think of the dog as an exercise machine with fur. A brisk walk with the dog is good for both of your hearts. Make it a part of your daily routine.
- Schedule an after-dinner walk, perhaps as a family. Make it quality time.
- Avoid highly-processed and salty foods.
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator at school or the mall. Just start with one flight. Soon, you'll be ready for two.
Scott Schwarz, MD, is a cardiologist at Newton Medical Center.