Heart Healthy Lifestyle TipsBy Sarah S – Jenny Craig
Cardiovascular disease is, in most cases, preventable and may be controllable, by the choices we make. It takes a commitment to a heart healthy lifestyle: eating the right foods and limiting the wrong ones, regular physical activity, and weight management. Knowing how to keep your heart healthy is vital to adding years and quality to your life, and it can help you prevent a heart attack or stroke. Follow these healthy heart tips so that you can improve your overall health and well-being.
1. Get Moving 3-5 Times Per Week
Being active offers so many benefits. It burns calories to help you maintain a healthy weight. It makes good and efficient use of any extra glucose that’s floating around in your bloodstream, so it helps prevent diabetes, which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. It helps reduce stress, may help lower blood pressure and improve your cholesterol numbers, and cardio exercise strengthens your heart. Choose something you enjoy and that fits your schedule because then you’ll stick to it.
2. Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet
Lean more towards a plant-based diet, and eat plenty of seasonal vegetables, fruits, and high-fiber foods daily. When planning your own meals, try to get two 3.5-ounce servings of fish - preferably fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and trout, which contain heart-healthy omega fatty acids and omega 3’s—every week. Watch out for hidden calories in desserts and sweets. Trade sweetened beverages for non-caloric ones like sparkling water and unsweetened iced tea, or make your own flavored waters by adding fresh strawberries/raspberries, mint/thyme or lemon/lime wedges. If you are on Jenny Craig, you're already following a heart-healthy diet!
3. Control Cholesterol
An ideal cholesterol ratio is high on HDLs (good cholesterol) and low on LDLs (bad). It’s wise to talk with your doctor about getting a cholesterol test, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. If your cholesterol is less than ideal, be vigilant about eating right and exercising regularly to keep it under control. Some people, though, may still need medication.
4. Get To & Maintain a Healthy Weight
Regular exercise will burn extra calories, and eating nutritious foods will help you drop pounds and maintain your best weight, but a key component of weight management is portion control and a meal plan that won’t let you go hungry during the day. Jenny Craig offers just such a plan, plus you’ll have the regular support of a consultant. A two-year clinical trial to examine the efficacy of the Jenny Craig program found that participants lost an average of 10 percent of initial weight loss at one year and an average of 7 percent at two years.1
5. Manage Your Blood Pressure
And that place is under 140/90. Regular exercise, a healthy weight, and low stress all help to keep your blood pressure from climbing too high. In addition, limit sodium intake to 2,400 milligrams a day (that’s about 1 teaspoon of salt) and eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which are good sources of potassium.2 Potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Because the symptoms of high blood pressure aren’t noticeable, it's recommended to get yours checked regularly, and if you have trouble keeping it in check, work with your healthcare provider on a solution.
6. Watch High Blood Sugar
Excess glucose (sugar) coursing through your bloodstream damages blood vessels, and diabetes often heightens the risk of heart disease or can lead to it. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), when blood sugar is consistently at an elevated level above the recommended AHA guidelines when at a younger age, it can lead to cognitive issues later in life. High cholesterol levels and high blood pressure can also have the same effect. This shows that cardiovascular health is also linked to your brain, so if you stay heart healthy now, you may also possibly prevent Alzheimer and other diseases later on.3
Prediabetes (when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal) and diabetes don’t have in-your-face symptoms early on. Understanding how your blood sugar levels change and how you can manage them is an important step if you have prediabetes or have a family history.
If you are overweight and 45 or over or have risk factors for diabetes (family history, a history of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, low HDLs and high triglycerides, or are of African American, Latino, Native American or Asian American descent), you should talk with your doctor about getting a blood sugar test. If the numbers come back high, you may be able to lower them through heart healthy exercise and weight loss as part of your Jenny Craig program.
7. Snuff out Cigarettes
Smoking is linked to heart disease and causes many forms of cancer. Quitting is difficult, but there are many cessation methods from patches, chewing gum, lozenges and other nicotine products to counseling to support groups, hypnosis, and more. Visit smokefree.gov for guidance on how to find the right option for you. To get started living a heart-healthy life and learn how Jenny Craig can help book a free appointment today!
 Rock CL, Flatt SW, Karanja N, et al. JAMA. 2010;304(16):1803-1811.