Keeping Your Heart Strong and Healthy Is Easier Than You Think

By Haris Turalic, MD, F.A.C.C. –

Keeping Your Heart Strong and Healthy Is Easier Than You ThinkControlling your weight with regular exercise is imperative for a healthy heart, but it is also important to eat right. By adopting heart healthy diet and physical activity routine, you can prevent or manage heart disease.

Importance of heart-healthy food choices
The food you eat can affect the way blood flows through your heart and arteries. A diet high in “bad” fats (saturated and trans fats) and cholesterol can gradually cause buildup (called plaque) in your arteries. That buildup slows down blood flow and can eventually block your arteries. If the blockage happens in an artery that carries blood to the heart muscle, a heart attack can occur. If the blockage happens in an artery that carries blood to the brain, a stroke can occur. The right diet can help keep your arteries clear and will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Keeping your heart healthy by making healthier food choices isn’t as hard as it sounds!

Tips for a heart-healthy diet
• Eat less saturated and trans fats. These fats are found in foods such as butter, coconut and palm oil, saturated or hydrogenated vegetable fats such as Crisco, animal fats in meats and fats in whole milk dairy products.
• Whole-grain breads are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, so choose these breads instead of white breads for sandwiches and as additions to meals.
• Eat fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in fat. Not only do they add flavor and variety to your diet, but they also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals.
• Baking, broiling and roasting are the healthiest ways to prepare meat and poultry. Trim any outside fat or skin before cooking. Lean cuts can be pan-broiled or stir-fried. Use either a nonstick pan or nonstick cooking spray instead of butter or margarine.
• Dry beans, peas and lentils offer protein and fiber without the cholesterol and fat that meats have. Once in a while, try substituting beans for meat in a favorite recipe, such as lasagna or chili.
• Choose low- or nonfat versions of milk, yogurt and cheese products. Eat no more than 4 egg yolks a week (use egg whites or egg substitutes).

Maintaining a healthy weight is important
Talk to your family doctor about your ideal weight, because every person is different. If you’re overweight, the extra pounds put extra stress on your heart. Losing weight can help your heart stay healthy. If you need to lose weight, remember that losing just 10% of your body weight will reduce your risks for diabetes and heart disease.

Get up and get moving to prevent heart disease
Exercise makes your heart stronger, which helps it pump more blood with each heartbeat. This delivers more oxygen to your body, which helps it function more efficiently.

Exercise can also lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease and reduce levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), which can clog the arteries and can cause a heart attack. At the same time, exercise can raise levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol), which helps protect against a heart attack by carrying fatty deposits out of the arteries.

When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can speed up weight loss. Regular exercise also helps you burn calories faster, even when you’re sitting still, because exercise builds lean muscle (which burns more calories than fat).

It is as easy as taking a walk
Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe more deeply and makes your heart work harder to pump blood. Aerobic exercise also raises your heart rate (which also burns calories). Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, running, dancing, swimming and bicycling. If you are intimidated by exercising, the best thing you can do is take those first few steps. Start out by walking slowly increasing the pace and distance as you get stronger. It doesn’t matter how fast or how long you walk, the important thing is that you get moving.

In general, if you haven’t been exercising, try to work up to 30 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. Your doctor may recommend a different exercise regimen based on your health.

Fitting exercise into your daily routine is easy
There are lots of ways to raise your heart rate during your regular day. Some examples include:
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Walk during a coffee break or lunch.
• Walk to work, or park at the end of the parking lot so you have to walk farther.
• Walk more briskly.
• Do housework at a quicker pace and more often (for example, vacuuming every day).
• Do yard work.

There are some heart disease risk factors you can’t control, such as your age or health problems of your parents. However, some risk factors are related to your lifestyle, such as smoking, being overweight, and having an unhealthy diet. These lifestyle factors may increase your risk of developing heart disease. And these same risk factors will cause heart disease to get worse if you already have it.

Luckily, the opposite is true as well. Adopting a heart-healthy diet and a healthier lifestyle can improve your health, even if you already have high blood pressure or other forms of heart disease. Don’t become victim to a disease that is preventable. There’s no better time than today to start making healthy lifestyle changes.

Specialty Interests:

  • Non-Invasive Cardiology
  • Undergraduate Education:
  • B.S. Brooklyn College,
  • The City University of New York. 1999
  • Medical Education:
  • M.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • New York. NY 2004
  • Advanced Training:
  • New York University Medical Center
  • (Cardiology Internship and Residency)
  • North –Shore-LIJ Health System
  • New York University Fellowship Program
  • (Cardiology Fellowship)
  • Professional Experience:
  • Augusta Health Cardiology,
  • Fishersville, VA 2010- 2013
  • Lehigh Medical Group 2013 – present
  • Certification:
  • American Board of Internal Medicine
  • 2007 – 2017
  • American Board of Internal Medicine,
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • 2010-2020
  • Certification Board of Nuclear Cardiology,
  • 2010-2020
  • National Board of Echocardiography
  • 2011-2021
  • Licensure:
  • Florida, New York, Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky.

(239) 368-6017
1530 Lee Blvd., Suite 1400, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936



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