Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death, while stroke isn’t far behind. Protect your heart and brain with these steps
- Do not smoke: One of the best ways to protect yourself against a stroke or heart attack is by not smoking. The benefits of quitting show up after only a few months.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight increases your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease and diabetes — risk factors for a stroke and heart attack.
- Limit fats and cholesterol: Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. Instead of butter, margarine and shortening, use monounsaturated oils (olive, canola and peanut) and polyunsaturated oils (corn, safflower, sesame, sunflower and soy).
- Eat fish that have omega-3s: Eat fish that have omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and trout.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables: Fruits & vegetables contains nutrients such as potassium, folate and antioxidants that may protect against stroke and heart attack. Eat at least three servings of fruits and at least four servings of vegetables daily.
- Limit alcohol: use Small amounts of alcohol may have cardiovascular benefits, but too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. Moderate drinking means no more than one drink a day for women and anyone 65 or older and no more than two drinks a day for men younger than 65.
- Reduce salt (sodium): Limiting sodium in your diet and making other lifestyle changes can help prevent high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, reducing sodium intake further may help lower it.