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Simple Ways to Protect Heart Health

No single nutrient will make you healthy, so focus on overall habits rather than getting or avoiding specific food elements like fat, dietary cholesterol or individual vitamins.

Medical advances make heart attack, heart failure and stroke less dangerous than they were 100, 50 or 30 years ago. Yet the best ways to maintain cardiovascular health stay the same and don’t require a doctor: a healthy lifestyle that emphasizes plant-based food choices, regular exercise, stress management and no tobacco.

A good-for-you diet lowers the risk of heart disease by reducing high cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar and insulin levels. No single nutrient will make you healthy, so focus on overall habits rather than getting or avoiding specific food elements like fat, dietary cholesterol or individual vitamins.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and good fats are all part of a heart-healthy diet. Some foods, like oats and barley, contain soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol in the digestive tract and prevents it from entering the bloodstream. Others provide polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

See my next post for inexpensive food that can give your heart health a boost. If you have tips that help you make healthy living a habit, share them in the comments section.

This post was written by Robert Graham, MD, associate program director and director of resident research for the department of medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Contents of the health blog are the property of North Shore-LIJ Health System and are provided as a health resource for consumers, health care professionals and members of the media. The medical content on the North Shore-LIJ Health Blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consultation with your physician regarding diagnosis, treatment or any other form of specific medical advice.   These materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "North Shore-LIJ Health System," "North Shore-LIJ," "northshorelij.com," "VivoHealth," their related entities and logos are trademarks of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Copyright © 2011 North Shore-LIJ Health System.  All rights reserved.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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