6 Heart-Healthy Habits for the New Year


Low Sodium: 6 Heart-Healthy Habits for the New Year

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? Yet, it's largely preventable with diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle choices and medication.

If you're thinking about ringing in the New Year by making some positive changes, focus on these SIX heart-healthy habits:

1. Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight

If you've dialed in your diet to lose weight and keep it off, keep up the good work. If you need to lose a few pounds, it's worth the effort.

Even moderate weight loss can help reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

The best combo to lose weight and keep it off: eat healthy foods, get regular exercise, and manage stress in healthy ways.

2. Eat heart-healthy foods

A big piece of the weight-loss puzzle is connected to what you eat. Eating fewer calories than you burn will help you shed those extra pounds. But the right foods will also help protect your heart and lower your risk for other health problems. For heart health, eat more:

  • Leafy greens
  • Whole-grain bread, pasta, cereal, and oatmeal
  • Berries
  • Avocados
  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds

Need a little help preparing heart-healthy meals? Check out the complete list of Low-Sodium meals made from fresh ingredients and ready to eat in minutes.

3. Get regular exercise

Here's the minimum: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week.

Even simple forms of exercise can burn calories and fat like walking, biking, swimming, or hiking.

Pick an activity you enjoy, and make it part of your daily routine.

4. Avoid or limit tobacco and alcohol

Wondering where are those extra calories are coming from that tip the scale in the wrong direction? It could be beer, wine and other forms of alcohol. Research shows that avoiding or limiting alcohol can improve sleep, support weight loss, and reduce stress.

If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, create a plan to quit. Why? Smoking increases the risk for blocked arteries, heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

5. Eat less sugar

How much sugar do you consume? This includes candy, desserts, cereals and sugar-sweetened beverages. You might be surprised that foods like yogurt, milk, salad dressings, granola bars, and even some canned soups contain added sugar.

Take a closer look at food labels and sugar in your diet. Then create a plan to cut back.

6. Manage stress in healthy ways

Every body experiences stress from time to time. But too much stress increases the risk for inflammation, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and other mental and physical health problems.

Learn to manage stress in healthy ways by doing things such as:

  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga or meditation
  • Writing in a journal
  • Counseling or therapy
  • Exercise
  • Enjoying a hobby
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Reading a good book
  • Laughing more

Ring in the New Year with these 6 heart-healthy habits and you'll be healthier and feel better.