Monday, February 04, 2013


Top 10 tips for a healthy heart

On his late-night TV show, David Letterman often presents his popular “Top Ten” lists. I find them enjoyable and entertaining.  My charge is to write about health topics, and it’s not so easy to make them entertaining.  I guess I can only hope to be informative and useful.

In that spirit, and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I offer my “Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Heart.”

10. Eat more fish and fiber rich foods like whole grains and legumes.

9. Eat less salt, sugar and fat.

8. Take medicine as prescribed. Keep them organized in a pillbox.

7. Get your blood pressure checked at least once a month.

6. Incorporate exercise into every day.  Regular exercise will decrease your blood pressure and help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

5. Watch what you drink.  Avoid diet sodas and caffeine. Limit daily alcohol to one drink for women, two for men. Water is still the best beverage choice.

4. Manage stress. We all have stress in our lives from one source or another and scheduling some fun or relaxation around it will stop it from taking over.

3. Laugh a lot. According to research from University of North Carolina, when you watch a comedy show or just laugh, your arteries expand with 22% more blood flow.

2. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. The more colorful, the better. Visit www.chooseMY for more information about this recommendation.

1.Think positive. Research suggests that positive emotions such as optimism are associated with lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol, better immune function, and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Make a resolution to view the cup as half full instead of half empty. This comes naturally to optimists, but it can be a learned behavior for pessimists.  And the health benefits make it worth it!

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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