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5 Essential Habits for a Healthy Heart

Healthy Heart Turnaround: Stress and Hostility Because Americans are more likely to adapt to stress than quell it, millions are

Healthy Heart Turnaround: Stress and Hostility
Because Americans are more likely to adapt to stress than quell it, millions are unaware their heart health is at risk. Chronic stress and coronary heart disease go hand and hand. It's linked to unhealthy cholesterol levels, hypertension and a host of unhealthy habits that most of us turn to under duress. Aside from all of this, if you're often in a bad mood it may be time to address your stress. Studies maintain that hostility may trump the leading predictors of heart disease.

Heart Disease Turnaround: Smoking
Cigarette smoking may be to blame for one in five cardiovascular disease deaths. Smoking damages blood vessels by lowering good cholesterol (HDL), complicating blood flow and contributing to high blood pressure. Smoking is also linked to insulin resistance and the cluster of problems that collectively define metabolic syndrome.

See Advice and Ideas for Quitting Smoking

Healthy Heart Turnaround: Lack of Exercise
This one's simple: Move your body! If you're not burning calories, you're storing them — as fat. Too much of this means higher triglycerides and LDL — both bad for your heart. The American Heart Association supports regular aerobic physical activity as it increases both your fitness level and aptitude for exercise. At a minimum, 20-30 minutes of daily exercise can help prevent cardiovascular disease, though embracing opportunities to be more active won't harm your heart (or waistline!) either.

Healthy Heart Turnaround: Your Diet
Eating healthy means so much more than just ordering a salad for lunch. Research has uncovered delicious information about whole grains, almonds, exotic juices, and even chocolate! Commonsense tells us why fresh produce is a smarter choice than potato chips. Learn about healthy food options so you'll develop an arsenal of defenses against salty, sugary, trans fatty foods.

Browse Our Heart-Healthy Recipes
Heart-Smart Solutions to Dining Dilemmas

Healthy Heart Turnaround: Your Weight
The nation's weight problem accounts for 112,000 deaths per year, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease, higher in persons who are overweight or obese, is a consequence of grave importance as it can lead to heart attack and death. Carrying extra weight can raise your blood pressure, elevate your triglycerides, decrease HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, and put you at risk for serious conditions, like diabetes and cancer. Get the numbers on your scale out of the danger zone by being mindful about diet and exercise. If you need help, speak with your doctor or consult a nutritionist.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest