Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States, and the prevention of heart disease is the most effective way to reduce the rate of the illness. Although genetic risk factors may raise an individual’s risk of heart disease, there are many healthy living practices that a person can implement to reduce their risk throughout life.

Stopping smoking is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular illness

Quitting smoking entirely is one of the best things that a smoker can do to prevent heart disease. Smoking is one of the greatest risk factors for developing the illness, and it has several negative effects on the body and cardiovascular system including: contributing to the development of atherosclerosis, reduced oxygenation, increased blood pressure, and more. Almost immediately after a person quits smoking their body begins healing and their risk for developing heart disease begins dropping.

Eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains

Another major risk factor for developing heart disease is an unhealthy diet. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish is one of the best ways to maintain a low risk of heart disease. Red meat should be limited as much as possible as well as foods that are rich in sugar, salt, and trans-fats. The nutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals found in many fruits and vegetables have many beneficial effects on the body and heart. In particular, garlic, almonds, walnuts, oatmeal, salmon, blueberries, spinach, and broccoli are some of the best foods to eat for cardiovascular and overall health.

Avoid a sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for developing heart disease, and regular exercise three to five times per week is one of the best ways to avoid this increased risk. Exercise does not need to be strenuous or time consuming, an exercise session of just 30 minutes at a minimum of three times per week can be very effective at maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Those who have a high BMI (Body Mass Index) also have an increased risk of heart problems and should work on reducing their BMI through an exercise and dieting program.