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Small Changes You Can Make To Be More Heart Healthy

"While treats like chocolate and wine are fine, they must be part of an overall healthy diet that includes foods rich in nutrients," claims Yancy. One item that no diet should lack is fiber, specifically soluble fiber, which is shown to lower both bad cholesterol and risk of diabetes. We often think of oatmeal when we talk about fiber, but Yancy says that fiber can be found in some other surprising places. An apple a day keeps the doctor away is true because of the high fiber content in apples, and there's even more fiber in raspberries. The tip here is to eat the most colorful fruit to get the most fiber.

Beyond eating nutritious foods, exercise is a necessary part of any heart healthy lifestyle. All exercise is good for your heart, especially cardiovascular or aerobic activity sessions lasting 30 minutes, at least three to four times per week. Yancy says women shouldn't be as worried about eliminating a little extra bottom fat, but should focus more on fat around the organs, like belly fat. "Yes, fat is bad, but some kinds of body fat are not quite as bad as others," explained Yancy. "To keep a check on dangerous belly fat, we can measure this using the waist to hip ratio. With a ratio above 0.8 for women and 1.0 for men, the risk of heart disease increases."

Yancy believes that rather than just adopting the same resolution to lose weight, think more about the overall commitment to health with a balanced diet and exercise. "When you lead a healthy lifestyle that is focused on improving your overall wellbeing, the weight loss will come naturally," said Yancy. "Not only will you feel and look better, but your heart will be stronger and healthier."

Northwestern Medicine® is the shared vision that joins Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a collaborative effort to transform medicine through quality healthcare, academic excellence and scientific discovery.

For more information about heart care at Northwestern's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, visit www.heart.nmh.org. To schedule an appointment please call 312-926-0779. Also, visit the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bluhmcardiovascularinstitute.    

About Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Northwestern Memorial HealthCare is the parent corporation of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 894-bed academic medical center hospital and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 205-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois. 

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