For heart health, focus on overall diet and exercise patterns

heart-healthHere’s some heart health news that may be welcome as the holiday eating season hits full stride: Rather than fretting over occasional indulgences, people should focus on their overall diet and exercise patterns.

“Quit thinking of foods as good or bad,” said Robert Eckel, MD, co-chair of an expert committee that wrote a new healthy lifestyle guideline for the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology. Instead, “consider the overall dietary pattern and enjoy ice cream and birthday cake…on occasion.”

The recommendations focus specifically on managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which many Americans need to do.

Recommendations include the following:

Cut back on salt. “We all eat too much sodium, and this guideline provides further evidence that we’d all do well to eat less of it,” said Dr. Eckel, a former president of the AHA.

The average American consumes 3,600 milligrams of sodium per day. T

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