The average middle-aged adult has about a one in three chance of developing heart disease, finds alarming new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But there’s a silver lining: Control your risk factors right now, and you can delay its arrival by as long as 14 years or prevent heart problems altogether.
Start with these simple steps:
- Stop sipping on sugar. Drink just one less can of regular soda per day to reduce both the top and bottom numbers of your blood pressure. That’s good news, since hypertension affects one in three adults in the U.S. – and it’s one of the leading causes of heart attacks and strokes.
- Learn to love legumes. Chickpeas, pintos, lentils – take your pick. People with type 2 diabetes who ate one cup of beans per day had better control of their blood sugar and reduced their heart disease risks, according to study in Archives of Internal Medicine.
- Fill up on fish. Grill or bake fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. People who eat fish two to four times per week are 20 percent less likely to die of heart disease and 6 percent less likely to have a stroke. That’s compared with those who dine on seafood less than once weekly.
- Stand up. Separate yourself from your chair. Being sedentary most of the day more than doubles your risk for heart attacks and diabetes and increases your risk for cardiovascular death by 90 percent—even if you exercise. Walk around during phone calls and ask your company to have more casual days. Research shows employees move more when they’re not in business attire. These minor changes can add up to about two-and-a-half hours of light activity each day, and a 20 percent boost in your calorie burn.
- Nosh on nuts. Almonds, pecans and pistachios do more than make good trail mix. They also reduce harmful blood fats when eaten instead of less healthy foods. Eating about two-and-a-half ounces of nuts per day—a little less than one-third of a cup—dropped both total and LDL (lousy) cholesterol levels after three to eight weeks, researchers report.
To learn more about heart care at the Guerry Heart & Vascular Center, click here.