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230813 Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Hypertension, or as it is commonly referred to as high blood pressure, is a major health risk. But it is also one risk that may be decreased by taking preventive steps before it becomes a problem.

As can be expected, exercise plays a role in managing your blood pressure readings. Thirty to forty minutes of exercise per day and keeping your heartbeat within your target heart range (THR) helps to maintain your blood pressure within the desirable range.

Be knowledgeable about your blood cholesterol levels by getting regular blood tests. The hard part, after you know your blood cholesterol readings is to keep them within the normal range. Two of your primary cholesterol numbers are important to know; LDL, bad cholesterol and HDL, the good cholesterol.

Normal range for the LDL is 130 mg/dL or less. The optimal is less than 100 however if you are one of those with a high risk for heart attack or stroke, this number should be 70 or less. The HDL, for women, should be less than 50 compared to a man’s at 40. Once again, diet and exercise may improve these levels.

The total blood cholesterol you have within your system should be less than 200, however it may be safe to exceed this if your LDL is under 130 and your HDL is high. The fat circulating in your blood, the triglycerides should optimally be less than 100 mg/dL and at a maximum of 150.

If you have a family history of diabetes, it is even more important to check your blood sugar levels regularly. If they are high, you must learn to control it because women with diabetes have an increased risk of suffering a heart attack and stroke than do men with diabetes. Women with slightly elevated levels of normal blood sugar, known as prediabetes, are in a higher risk category for coronary problems than men are with the same levels.

Men and women with diabetes have to be careful and control their blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, weight loss, and possibly even medication.

One of the healthiest ways to help control the cholesterol and blood sugar levels is by eating a healthy diet consisting of beans, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Adding in fish two or three times a week fills in the requirement for omega-3 fats and supplementing with lean meats such as poultry and carefully trimmed cuts of red meat should provide the majority of the protein without the excess fat that goes along with these meats. It is a mistake to cut all fat from your diet since fat is one of the essentials that your body needs to stay functioning.

Avoiding Trans fats, which are in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, is also wise decision-making. However, unsaturated fats are good for you when eaten in moderate amounts. Foods containing these unsaturated fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. Substitute these in place of the saturated fats found in animals.

Carbohydrates continue to get a bad rap in the press, fat loss forums and in gym conversations. These too are essential for your health, however limiting your intake of sugar-laden foods and refined carbohydrates such as those found in white bread and pasta will help you maintain better blood sugar levels while at the same time helping you lose weight. In addition, increasing soluble fiber in your diet, which has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, is also a healthy decision.

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