Accomplish at least six of the following seven heart-health lifestyle factors and, on average, over 14.5 years (the length of time of the study’s follow-up) you’ll be 51% less likely to die of all causes and 76% less likely to die of cardiovascular causes – as compared to people meeting only one or none of the factors.
The 7 Factors:
- Don’t smoke
- Be physically active
- Have normal blood pressure
- Have normal blood glucose
- Have normal total cholesterol levels
- Don’t be overweight or obese (have a BMI of less than 25)
- Eat a healthy diet
This Is A Case Where More Is Better
The more factors you meet, the better the result. The benefits went beyond cardiovascular disease. According to the researchers, meeting a greater number of the health goals appeared to be associated with a lower risk for all cancer mortality.
The study, published in JAMA and presented at a specialty meeting of the American Heart Association, analyzed data on 44,959 US adults who completed national health and nutrition surveys.
What Eating A Healthy Diet Means
Eating a healthy diet was scored based on 5 American Heart Association recommendations. They consist of:
- Eating 4.5 cups or more of fruit and vegetables daily
- Having 2 or more 3.5 oz. servings of fish each week
- Having 3 or more servings (1 oz equivalent) of fiber rich whole grains each day
- Having less than 1500 milligrams of sodium daily
- Having no more than 36 oz. of sugar sweetened beverages in a week
Meeting three or more of these recommendations counted as meeting the healthy diet factor.
The Benefits Are Cumulative
The conclusion of the study was: “Meeting a greater number of cardiovascular health metrics was associated with a lower risk of total and CVD mortality, but the prevalence of meeting all 7 cardiovascular health metrics was low in the study population.”
But, the benefits are cumulative. Try changing just one factor at a time – which could make a big difference. Think about starting with whatever factor is easiest for you to accomplish – do it – and then move on to the next one.