Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Myth: I won’t have to worry about heart disease until I’m much older.

Answer: Busted!

Although heart disease occurs most frequently in middle aged adults, research shows that it does not spare the young either. In fact, according to a recent study, one in five American teens has unhealthy cholesterol levels, a major risk factor for heart disease. Eating a variety of nutritious foods daily can reduce your risk of heart disease later in life.

To get you started, aim for:
  • Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day.
  • Fish (preferably oily fish, like salmon, trout, herring): At least two 3.5-ounces a week.
  • Fiber-rich whole grains: At list three 1-ounce-equivalents a day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked pasta or rice.
  • Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day. (Hint: 1 teaspoon salt = 2, 300 mg sodium).
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more that 450 calories (36 ounces) a week.
  • Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least four 1-ounce equivalents a week. One ounce equivalent is about 1/4 cup cooked beans, 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds.
  • Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs: No more than two 3-ounce equivalents a week.

In addition, get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity - like brisk walking - every week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity - like jogging - every week. Remember, even small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.

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