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From Our Cardiac Rehabilitation Program: Seven Heart Healthy Tips

Even small, steady changes in your life mean a stronger, more efficient heart.

Whether you have years of unhealthy habits under your belt or you simply want to improve your heart health,


  • Control your portion size
    How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, going for a second helping and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories than you should.
    TIP: Use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions.
  • Choose low-fat protein sources
    Choosing lean meats and other low-fat protein sources helps you get the amino acids your body requires without the added fat and calories.
    TIP: Choose low-fat dairy products such as skim or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt and cheese, eggs, cold-water fish such as salmon, and skinless poultry. Avoid: Full-fat milk and other dairy products, organ meats, such as liver, hot dogs, sausages and bacon.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits
    Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals – and contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
    TIP: Choose Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits. Avoid: Fried or breaded vegetables, canned fruit packed in heavy syrup.
  • Limit unhealthy fats
    Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat, is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease.
    Tip: Choose Olive oil, Canola oil, nut oils. Avoid: Butter, Nondairy creamers, coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils.
    Reduce the sodium in your food
  • Eating a lot of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
    Tip: Choose Herbs and spices. Avoid: Table salt, canned soups, frozen dinners and soy sauce.
  • Exercise Regularly
    Getting regular, daily exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease. When you combine physical activity with other lifestyle measures, such as maintaining a healthy weight, the payoff is even greater!
    Tip: Choose between 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. Avoid: Sitting for long periods of time.
  • Get enough quality sleep
    Make sleep a priority in your life.
    Tip: Choose to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Avoid: Compensating sleep deprivation with extended periods of sleep.
According to Michael Roizen, MD, the chief wellness officer for Cleveland Clinic and chairman of the clinic’s Wellness Institute: Your heart will love you if you eat six walnuts before lunch and dinner. Why? Because walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to decrease inflammation in the arteries surrounding your heart, so they keep your heart functioning longer and better.