1. Rise and dine. men who ate breakfast every day were 44 percent less
likely to be overweight and 41 percent less likely to develop insulin
resistance, both risk factors for heart disease.
2. Refill the bowl. two servings of whole-grain cereal (Cheerios count) a
day can reduce a man's risk of dying of heart disease by nearly 20 percent.
3. Choose dark chocolate. Cocoa contains flavonoids that thin the blood
and keep it from clotting (like it does just before you clutch your chest
and expire). And at least a third of the fat in chocolate is oleic acid,
which is the same healthy, monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Dove dark
chocolate bars retain as many flavonoids as possible.
4. Go fishing for tuna. Omega-3 fats in tuna help strengthen heart muscle,
lower blood pressure, and prevent clotting - as well as reduce levels of
potentially deadly inflammation in the body. Plus, tuna's high in protein.
Research shows that consuming more protein may lower a man's risk of heart
disease by nearly 26 percent.
5. Add ground flaxseed to your food. It's a natural source of omega-3s,
for those who don't like fish.
6. Grill a steak. You may think it's bad for your heart, but you'd be
wrong. Beef contains immunity-boosting selenium as well as homocysteine-
lowering B vitamins. And up to 50 percent of the fat is the heart-healthy
7. Eat grapefruit. One a day can reduce arterial narrowing by 46 percent,
lower your bad-cholesterol level by more than 10 percent, and help drop your
blood pressure by more than 5 points.
8. They really are good for your heart. Beans are a great source of
homocysteine- lowering folate and cholesterol- lowering soluble fiber.
Tulane University researchers found that people who ate four or more
servings a week had a 22 percent lower risk of developing heart disease (and
75 percent fewer camping companions) than less-than-once- a-week bean
10. Order garlic bread. In addition to lowering cholesterol and helping to
fight off infection, eating garlic may help limit damage to your heart after
a heart attack or heart surgery. Researchers in India found that animals who
were fed garlic regularly had more heart-protecting antioxidants in their
blood than animals who weren't.
11. Order take-out. Lots of Chinese and Indian foods contain ginger or
turmeric - spices packed with natural anti-inflammatories . "Anything that
helps keep levels of inflammation low is good for your heart,".
12. Swap sugar for honey. honey has powerful antioxidant qualities that
help combat cardiovascular disease, while sugar consumption can lower your
levels of HDL cholesterol, potentially increasing your risk of heart-related
13. Don't let your tank hit empty. people who eat six or more small meals
a day have 5 percent lower cholesterol levels than those who eat one or two
large meals. That's enough to shrink your risk of heart disease by 10 to 20
of folic acid: asparagus, broccoli, and fortified cereal.
14. Decaffeinate. Drinks that contain caffeine increase blood pressure by
nearly 4 points, on top of speeding up your heart rate by an average of 2
beats per minute. It's enoug h to push a borderline heart problem into the
15. Scramble an egg. They're relatively low in saturated fat, and they're
packed with betaine, a compound that helps lower homocysteine levels in the
blood by as much as 75 percent. Eggs are one of the few good food sources of
16. Order a chef's salad. Leafy greens and egg yolks are both good sources
of lutein, a phytochemical that carries heart-disease- fighting antioxidants
to your cells and tissues.
17. Have the red licorice. A compound in licorice root has been shown to
spike blood pressure - especially in men who eat a lot of black licorice.
Fruit-flavored licorice, however, doesn't contain the compound.
18. Take the Concord . compounds in Concord grapes help slow the
formation of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol. The grapes also lower blood
pressure by an average of 6 points if you drink just 12 ounces of their
juice a day.
19. Snack on pumpkin seeds. One ounce of seeds contains more than a third
of your recommended intake of magnesium. According to Mildred Seeling, M.D.,
author of The Magnesium Factor, magnesium deficiencies have been linked to
most risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, elevated
cholesterol levels, and the increased buildup of plaque in the arteries.
20. Feast on potassium. Slice a banana on your cereal, then bake a sweet
potato or cook up some spinach for dinner. All are loaded with potassium.
Studies show that not getting your daily 3,500 milligrams of potassium can
set you up for high blood pressure. Other good sources of potassium include
raisins, tomatoes, and papayas.
21. Beat the heat with a handful of cold grapes. University of Connecticut
researchers recently discovered that fresh grapes provide cholesterol-
lowering, artery-clearing protection similar to that you get from drinking
concentrated grape juice or wine.
22. Toss your salad with olive oil. Men whose diets include as much as 2
ounces of olive oil a day have an 82 percent lower risk of having a fatal
first heart attack than men who consume little or none. Olive oil is rich in
monounsaturated fats - known to hinder the oxidation of LDL cholesterol into
its artery-clogging form.
23. Change your oil. Researchers in India found that men who replaced the
corn and vegetable oils in their kitchens with sesame-seed oil lowered their
blood pressure by more than 30 points in just 60 days, without making any
other changes in their diets.
24. Double the tomato sauce. The lycopene in tomatoes prevents the harmful
buildup of cholesterol on artery walls. So double up the sauce on your pizza
25. Use the rotisserie. Foods cooked at high temperatures produce blood
compounds called advanced glycation end products, which researchers at Mount
Sinai Hospital say reduce cell elasticity and increase heartdisease risk.
Three fixes: Steam your vegetables, add marinade to your meat before
grilling to keep it moist, and cook foods longer at lower temperatures.
26. Snack on nuts. Harvard researchers found that men who replaced 127
calories of carbohydrates - that's about 14 Baked Lays potato chips - with 1
ounce of nuts decreased their risk of heart disease by 30 percent.
27. Have a fiber appetizer. Take a fiber supplement - Metamucil, for
instance - 15 minutes before each meal. It'll help slow the digestion of
highly processed starches and sweets. Diets high in foods that quickly raise
your blood sugar may increase heart-disease risk.
1. Run indoors on hazy days. Researchers in Finland found that exercising
outside on hot, hazy days when air pollution is at its worst can cut the
supply of oxygen in the blood, making it more likely to clot.
2. Take up rowing. A study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology
found that, compared with running, rowing uses more muscle and causes your
heart to pump more blood through the body, resulting in greater overall
gains in cardiovascular fitness.
3. Climb. Yale researchers found that men with insulin resistance - a risk
factor for diabetes and heart disease - who exercised on a stairclimber for
45 minutes 4 days a week improved their sensitivity to insulin by 43 percent
in 6 weeks.
4. Play hard. Any regular vigorous physical activity reduces your risk of
cardiovascular disease, even if performed for only 5 to 10 minutes at a
time, says John Yarnell, Ph.D., of Queen's University of Belfast , who
authored a study on the subject.
45. Push yourself. Harvard researchers found that men who perceived
themselves to be working out vigorously were 28 percent less likely to
develop heart disease than guys who felt they were slacking. An intense run
should be at 75 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. (Calculate your
MHR by subtracting your age from 220.)
6. Dive in the pool. U.K. researchers found that men who burn just 50
calories a day in strenuous activities like swimming and hiking are 62
percent less likely to die of heart disease than men who burn nearly seven
times as many calories - 340 per day - during less active pursuits like
walking and golfing.
7. Bike away the blues. Men who are suffering from depression are more
than twice as likely to develop heart disease as guys who aren't depressed.
So c'mon, get happy. In a trial of 150 men and women, Duke researchers found
that after just 3 months of treatment, antidepressants and exercise were
equally effective at relieving almost all symptoms of depression.
8. Take the stairs. People who walked an extra 4,000 to 5,000 steps each
day lowered their blood pressure by an average of 11 points, according to a
small study at the University of Tennessee .
LEAD A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
1. Watch a scary movie. Anything that causes your heart to race - slasher
flicks, a good book, even being in love - also makes your heart stronger,
according to researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center . Upsetting
the rhythm once in a while is like hitting your heart's reset button, which
helps it keep on ticking.
2. Join a group. Any group. According to research from the University of
Chicago , lonely people have a harder time dealing with stress and are at
greater risk of heart disease than people with a wide circle of friends.
3. Tell your wife to butt out. Or you may leave her - in a hearse.
Researchers in Greece found that individuals who were exposed to cigarette
smoke for just 30 minutes three times a week had a 26 percent greater risk
of developing heart disease than people who rarely encountered secondhand
4. Check for carbon monoxide. Almost all large household appliances,
including furnaces, water heaters, washers, dryers, and fireplaces, can leak
carbon monoxide into your home. Large levels of the gas can kill you in
hours, but long-term exposure to tiny amounts can be just as lethal,
promoting the formation of blood clots and increasing the risk of heart
disease. So make sure vents are clear and appliances are properly
ventilated, and install a carbon monoxide detector near your bedroom.
5. Wash your hands. German researchers followed 570 people for an average
of 3 years and found that those with the most antibodies (from fighting off
infections) in their systems also had the most significant clogging in the
arteries of their hearts, necks, and legs. Use liquid soap. Germs can live
6. Ditch the fad diet. University of Michigan researchers found that
people whose weight fluctuated wildly - as it tends to do when you adopt the
whack-job-diet- of-the-month - had weaker hearts and worse bloodflow than
people who lost weight more slowly but kept it off for good.
7. Pee in the bushes. After studying 40 people with heart disease,
researchers at Taiwan University in China found that the stress of having a
full bladder increases heart rate by an average of 9 beats per minute and
constricts the flow of blood by 19 percent. Either could be eno ugh to
trigger a heart attack, says study author Tsai Chang-Her, M.D.
8. Meditate 20 minutes a day. According to Thomas Jefferson University
researchers, this daily downtime may reduce your anxiety and depression by
more than 25 percent. And that's important, since a University of Florida
study found that patients with coronary artery disease who had the most
mental stress were three times more likely to die during the period of the
study than those with the least stress.
9. Touch her. Ten minutes of skin-to-skin contact (hand-holding, hugs)
with your mate can help keep your blood pressure and pulse from spiking
during stressful times, according to University of North Carolina
10. Stop at 2 cups. people who drank roughly 4 cups of coffee a day had
11 percent higher levels of heart-damaging homocysteine in their blood than
11. Stop snoring. Half of all people with sleep apnea - a condition that
occurs when people quit breathing for up to a minute at a time while
sleeping - also have high blood pressure, caused by unusually high levels of
the hormone aldosterone. Beat the apnea and the BP drops, too. Your doctor
can prescribe a SleepStrip, an at-home sleep-apnea test.
12. Pair up. Married men are less likely to die of heart disease than
bachelors. Toronto-based researchers studied 100 men and women with mild
high blood pressure and found that after 3 years of marriage, the happily
married men had healthier hearts than their unmarried brothers. Just choose
your bride wisely, or your heart will be broken and sick.
13. Have more sex. You might think all that grunting and sweating would
increase your risk of a stroke, but University of Bristol researchers say
the opposite is actually true. Not only are men who have sex at least twice
a week less likely to have a stroke than men who have sex less often, but
all that steamy exercise may also help reduce their heart-disease risk by up
to a third, compared with guys who aren't getting any.
14. Make friends at work. Researchers at St. Johns University studied 70
New York City traffic cops and found that men with the most work friends
also had the lowest heart rates and healthiest blood-pressure levels, even
during times of stress.
15. Read a good book. Swiss researchers found that men who recited poetry
for half an hour a day lowered their heart rates significantly, reducing
their stress levels and possibly their heart-disease risk. You don't need to
go all Emily Dickinson; just try reading aloud to your wife or kids instead.
Or to yourself. (But not on the subway.)
16. Rub. Massage helps relieve stress and reduce levels of inflammation-
triggering chemicals in the skin, says Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., of the
Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami .
KNOW YOUR BLOOD INDICATORS
1. Measure BP after exercise. Ask your doctor to measure your blood
pressure after a cardiac stress test. "The numbers will be higher, but
studies show they'll also be a better indicator of your overall health,"
says Kerry Stewart, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University .
2. Know what's in your arteries. Results of a highly sensitive C-reactive
protein blood test, together with your cholesterol numbers, can help give
doctors a more accurate picture of your heart-disease risk. And an apo B
measurement may be a more reliable indicator of heart disease than LDL
cholesterol, according to a recent review of studies comparing the two.
3. Use the free blood-pressure test (wisely). Most of the free
blood-pressure- monitoring machines found in pharmacies aren't 100 percent
accurate. According to a Canadian study, the machines can be off by an
average of 8 points systolic and 4 points diastolic per reading. Check your
BP three times, then average the readings.
4. Get your BP under 120/80. If your blood pressure is high (more than
140/90), knocking 20 points off the top number (systolic BP, the pressure
when your heart is contracting) and 10 points off the bottom number
(diastolic BP, the pressure when your heart is between beats) can cut your
risk of dying of heart disease in half.
Remember: Your heart will benefit more from a few long-term health
improvements than from a flurry of activity followed by a return to the