30 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke | Reader's Digest

30 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Take cardiovascular disease from high risk to low risk with these simple tips

from Stealth Health

8. Eat a high-fiber breakfast cereal at least four times a week. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September 1999, Harvard University scientists found that women who ate 23 grams of fiber a day — mostly from cereal — were 23 percent less likely to have heart attacks than those who consumed only 11 grams of fiber. In men, a high-fiber diet slashed the chances of a heart attack by 36 percent.

9. Sprinkle one ounce of ground flaxseed on your cereal or yogurt every day. This way you’ll be getting about 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that numerous studies find help prevent heart disease and reduce your risk of dying suddenly from heart rhythm abnormalities.

10. Make fresh salad dressing with one tablespoon of flaxseed oil. It packs a whopping 7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which, as we’ve just mentioned, are a great way to improve your overall heart health.

11. Drink at least two cups of tea a day. Black or green, it doesn’t seem to matter. At least, that’s the result of a Dutch study that found only 2.4 percent of 5,000 healthy Rotterdam residents who drank two or more cups of tea a day had a heart attack within six years, compared with 4.1 percent of those who never drank tea. Another major analysis of 17 studies on tea drinkers found three cups a day could slash the risk of a heart attack by 11 percent.

12. Stir a handful of hazelnuts into a vegetable-and-chicken stir-fry. Just 1.5 ounces of these healthy nuts a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Another hazelnut idea: Crush them and use to coat fish or chicken, then bake.

13. Include beans or peas in four of your dishes every week. Researchers at Tulane University found that people who followed this advice slashed their risk of heart disease by 22 percent compared to those who ate fewer legumes.

14. Have sex tonight. It counts as physical activity, which, of course, is good for your heart. And that may be why University of Bristol researchers found that men who have sex at least twice a week are less likely to have a stroke or other cardiovascular problems than men who have it less often. As the researchers put it: “Middle-aged men should be heartened to know that frequent sexual intercourse is not likely to result in a substantial increase in risk of strokes, and that some protection from fatal coronary events may be an added bonus.” Women probably stand to benefit too. Yeah, baby!

15. Take a baby aspirin every day. University of North Carolina researchers found that the tiny tablet slashes the risk of heart disease by nearly a third in people who have never had a heart attack or stroke but who were at increased risk (because they smoked, were overweight, had high blood pressure, or had some other risk factor). Just double-check with your doctor that there’s no reason for you not to take aspirin daily.