Five Steps to Heart Health 
Friday, February 17, 2012 at 10:35AM
Eularee in American Heart Association, Boomers, Healthy, Medicare, health care, heart disease, heart healthy, wellness, women's health

February is Heart Health month according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease is definitely an equal opportunity employer. One in three deaths are from heart disease. The decline in the economy has taken its toll on the well being of America. With obesity and smoking on the rise, AHA finds levels of stress have skyrocketed impacting wellness for both men and women.

Healthy Wealthy and Wise offers a few steps to consider when committing to a life of wellness. Avoiding the doctor is not as simple as eating an apple a day, but being proactive does benefit the bottom line when it comes to health care.

Step One:  Eat Plants and Fish

Plants rich in antioxidants help boost the immune system, the prime super hero in your fight against disease. Tasty meals that include pomegranates, tomatoes, and spinach create simple ways to set your table. By adding fruits and veggies rich in potassium like bananas, oranges and mushrooms you help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, as well as boosting the immune system. An added bonus is how you will feel. Diets rich in potassium fight depression and anxiety while increasing energy levels. And let's not forget building muscle and bone strength helping to prevent bone loss from osteoporosis.

Fish has been highly recognized for the omega 3 fats that help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and reduce blood clotting. Eating fish can also boost your immune system and ease symptoms of arthritis by reducing inflammation throughout the body. The types of fish you eat matters. Salmon delivers the best bang for the buck, but also herring and tuna. Some freshwater trout has higher omega 3 fat as well. Tiliapia and catfish are lower in fats but any fish can be unhealthy in the preparation. Baking and broiling are delicious, easy and the most heart healthy ways to prepare fish.

Step Two: Lower Daily Fat Intake

This is perhaps the hardest in a world of fast food and quick meals. But it can also be the most fun to discover new foods and ways to prepare them. By keeping your trans and saturated fats to no more than 7% of your daily intake, you have gone a long way to keeping your heart healthy and your waist line slim.

Rather than focus on what not to eat, discover what you can eat. Did you know that refrigerated olive oil makes a delicious spread on your toast? Replace red meats on occasion with beans or nuts. Look for recipes that support heart health. But remember not all "low fat" or "reduced fat" meals are healthy. They substitute other unhealthy foods, such as white bread or white rice, which produce higher levels of sugar. So think, read and make healthy choices.

Step Three: Know Your Risk Level

Be proactive. Know your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Know your family history. These are all chapters in your health history. Knowing these numbers will help produce a happy ending.

Step Four: Exercise

This one can be tough. Finding ways to incorporate these into your daily life can often be challenging. The recommended level of exercise is a brisk walk for 30 minutes 5 days a week. But these recommendations are just that - guidelines. Mix it up. Keep it interesting. Take the stairs when you can, park farther away or get a buddy to walk with you after work before going home. One of my many friends without health insurance and too young for Medicare, says his insurance policy is Handball. Make it work for you, rather than making more work for yourself. 


This really does seem like a no brainer, but that being said, it does have overwhelming challenges. I hear so often from friends that quit, the new challenge becomes not gaining weight. Find the best solution for your habit. Take it slow and always keep in the forefront the benefit not only to yourself, but to those around you. Second hand smoke is just as deadly and just as preventable. I stopped smoking when I was twenty five because I wanted to start a family. It was my incentive. Find yours. 

These five steps could be a much longer list. Finding healthy, wealthy and wise ways to be proactive in remaining well and fighting off disease, is the best tool in our aging activist toolbox. If you have recipes, exercise routines or how to quit smoking tips, please leave a comment. Remember there are 77 million Boomers looking for solutions to expensive health care costs and the benefits of healthy living. 

 Image: Google/Moon Stars and Paper (Creative Commons)

Article originally appeared on Eularee Smith • Writer & Educator in Eugene, Oregon (
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