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4 Steps Reinforce Healthy Lifestyle Basics

Many of the blogs I have written focused on varied topics from cardiovascular disease prevention to increasing physical activity.  One theme running through all of these has been an emphasis on following a healthy lifestyle, which, often, can lead to a better quality of life.

Today I am presenting four steps to consider with the potential to help lower your drug dose or get off medication entirely, or simply improve your overall heart health.  Thanks to Consumer Reports, “On Health,” for much of the content in this blog.

Lose extra weight

Dropping just 9 pounds can reduce systolic blood pressure by 4.5 mm Hg and diastolic by 3mm Hg, according to a 2014 review. Go to the recently published guidelines published by the American College of Cardiology for more information. You can also refer to my blog published in the Tallahassee Democrat on Nov. 13 titled, “Hypertension a ‘silent killer’ that is a preventable disease.”

Eat well

Proper eating habits can help you get to — and maintain — a healthy weight. Vegetarian and Mediterranean-style diets reduced body fat and weight equally. According to a study published in the journal, Circulation, in February.  However, the vegetarian diet was more effective in lowering LDL levels, and the Mediterranean diet — rich in fruits, vegetables whole grains, legumes, olive oil and lean protein — led to greater reductions in triglycerides, a blood fat linked to heart disease. Consuming less than 2,300 mg. of sodium daily has also been shown to lower blood pressure.


A study published in 2017 in the journal, Lancet noted that individuals who meet current activity guidelines — 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week — have a 22 percent lower risk of a major cardiovascular event when compared compare with those who have low physical activity levels. This appears to be true even for people who have seemingly unmodifiable heart disease risk factors, such as a family history.

 Refer to the recently published document, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd Edition) for specifics. My blog, “New guidelines offer same message: keep moving” can also be accessed in the Nov. 20 edition of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Avoid air pollution

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism concluded that people who breathed in higher than average levels of particulates, such as auto exhaust and dust, had higher blood sugar levels, higher “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels and lower good (HDL) levels — all factors that raise one’s risk for heart disease. A resource to check local pollution levels can be found at:

Mark Mahoney has been Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 30 years.  He can be reached at

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Written by Abby Jones

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