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.