Feature Story: Live Heart Healthy Month

Sydney Wood, Benefits Manager

In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Many factors contribute to heart disease like carrying too much weight, smoking or lack of exercise. This month, we share steps you can take to live heart healthy.

Keeping your heart healthy is an essential part of your overall health and well-being. There are many factors that contribute to heart health, and one of the most important is cholesterol. Watching your cholesterol is a great way to help protect your heart — and your health. You can get started with the tips below. Talk with your doctor about a plan that’s right for you.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains. Fish and low-fat or nonfat dairy foods are also smart choices.
  • Make exercise a priority. Aim for moderate to intense activity for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, getting to a healthy weight can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Manage your medicines. Your doctor may recommend a medication known as “statin” to help you lower your cholesterol. It can help if you’re at risk for a stroke or heart attack.
  • Quit smoking—or don’t start. Avoiding tobacco, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and pipes, is one of the best things you can do for your heart.

From personal experience, I know taking steps to a healthier lifestyle can seem daunting. Below are 7 quick changes that you can make now to boost your diet and help you feel your best.

  1. Add a serving of veggies or fruit at lunch and dinner. For example, try adding veggie toppings to a ready-made pizza.
  2. Treat meat as one part of the meal, instead of the focus. Try having two or more meatless meals a week.
  3. Drink fat-free milk. A glass has only 80 calories and no fat. It’s packed with nutrients that can help lower blood pressure.
  4. Choose whole-grain foods, including whole-grain cereals.
  5. Add garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to a salad, or make split pea or black bean soup.
  6. Take fruit to work as a snack.
  7. Use half the butter or margarine you do now.

You can read more about a heart-healthy diet below:

Learn about heart health and more ways to lower cholesterol at Aetna.com.