Here’s good reason to make your healthy-living goals more than just talk: Research from Sweden fo...
In the study, men who met all five of the low-risk lifestyle choices had an 86 percent lower risk of heart attack over 11 years than those who didn’t have any. These protective habits included:
- eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish;
- drinking a moderate amount of alcohol;
- not smoking;
- walking for at least 40 minutes a day and exercising more vigorously at least an hour a week;
- and keeping your waist circumference below 37 inches.
By adhering to all five of the factors, the researchers believe that nearly four out of every five heart attacks can be prevented. The problem is, only 1 percent of men in the study met that goal.
These low-risk factors can protect heart health by favorably affecting your blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammatory response while improving the function of your blood vessels, the researchers believe.
“Each of these factors are important separately, and when they are combined, they can explain a large part of the heart attacks,” says study author Agneta Åkesson, Ph.D.
An important note: This wasn't a cause and effect study. These are simply behaviors associated with a reduced risk for heart disease. The foods listed—"a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish"—constitute what's typically considered to be a heart-healthy diet, and the risk reduction results are based in part on their consumption.
So focus on incorporating these factors into your life—it’s never too late to start, and even little steps are better than doing nothing at all, says Åkesson.
The only exception: If you don’t already drink alcohol, you don’t need to start. Dr. Akesson doesn't recommend non-drinkers begin imbibing just for health benefits.