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Five ways to love your heart

Dr. Teresa Fuller | 4/15/2014, 6 a.m.
Healthy lifestyle

Are you among the nearly 1 in 2 African Americans suffering from heart disease? If not, you’re undoubtedly affected by having a friend or family member who is. There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that heart disease is the number one killer of African Americans, and that we have the highest prevalence of most risk factors for heart disease.

But here’s the very good news: the risk factors for heart disease are often reversible with simple actions that you can take. Here are the 5 major risk factors for heart disease, and something you can do about each one:

High cholesterol: A good way to reduce your cholesterol safely and naturally is by eating a high fiber diet. Most people get less than half the daily fiber they need. Beans are a great source of fiber and should be eaten daily. The other great sources are vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains, like brown rice.

High blood pressure: One tip for normalizing your blood pressure is to eat a high potassium diet. Foods that are high in potassium include avocados, bananas, citrus fruits (especially grapefruit), asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, green peas, potatoes, and squash. Another surprising good source of potassium is coconut water.

Overweight? Maybe you’re not eating enough. Sound crazy? Many people who are overweight skip breakfast and eat 1 or 2 meals all day. If you do that, your body thinks it’s starving and holds on to the fat. A much better habit is to start every day with a healthy breakfast, like old-fashioned oatmeal, and then eat regularly throughout the day. Make sure your meals are heavy in greens, beans and whole grains.

Are you a smoker? You’ve probably been trying to quit. Nicotine addiction is a lot easier to overcome when you flood your brain with the nutrients it needs. That’s why a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and other healthy plant foods which provides a complete range of the vitamins and minerals you need will help you kick the habit.

Diabetes: A study found that increased dietary intake of Vitamin K1 can reduce the risk of diabetes by 50 percent! Foods that are rich sources of vitamin K1 include, raw spinach; raw leaf lettuce; raw kale; raw Swiss chard; raw watercress; raw parsley and cooked broccoli. If you eat a large green salad 1 to 2 times per day (with a healthy salad dressing), you’ll be getting a good dose of this important nutrient.

Food is powerful medicine. So do like your doctor says, and take your medicine.