Take time to make conscious decisions about improving your heart's health

World Heart Day is Sept. 29

This article was written and paid for by Pharmacy Advantage.

Now is the time to start making conscious decisions about improving your heart's health. While you can't change your family history and genetics, you can make changes to start living a healthier lifestyle.

By now, everybody has told you that taking care of your heart is important. It can be a difficult point to get across. Oftentimes, you don't experience any negative effects of poor heart health care until it's too late.

This year, make the decision to start living a healthier life. You don't have to make grand promises, such as changing your entire life and habits. But it does start with a commitment to yourself, your friends and your family that you will take care of yourself.

Let's start in the kitchen

Many of us yearn for that juicy double cheeseburger from time to time. But reaching for that greasy burger today may mean dangerous complications for you in the future.

On the positive side, it's now easier than ever to eat healthy food without sacrificing taste. Simply reducing your portion sizes and watching your salt intake can do wonders.

Additionally, introduce some more fruits and vegetables into your meals. Even frozen and canned veggies can make a difference.

When you're at the sandwich shop, ask for whole wheat or whole grain bread.

The biggest factors to avoid, as you have probably heard, are saturated fats and salty foods. Cut down on butter, bacon fat and cream sauces for fats. Don't worry, not all is lost. In lieu of these, if you need to eat or cook with fats, choose olive oil. If you need to add flavor to a dish, use additional herbs and spices instead of more salt or condiments.

You don't have to make any monumental changes, but just staying mindful will start to make a difference.

Get your steps in

During our busy schedules, we often forget to take care of our bodies. This can manifest in more ways than one. The only person suffering from this lack of attention is you. A little exercise can go a long way in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease or other heart-related issues. Most sources recommend 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, five days a week, to stay healthy.

If you're already shaking your head, stay with us. You don't have to be a CrossFit champion to have a healthier heart. These 30 minutes can be a brisk walk, jog or swim. If you work at a desk all day, make sure to take laps around your office. Your heart won't be the only thing that thanks you.

The not-so-fun stuff

The World Heart Federation estimates that 17.3 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year. Poor diets, lack of exercise, and bad habits like smoking severely increase the risk of heart-related diseases.

This September, on World Heart Day, let's celebrate together by making the choice to take care of ourselves. We're all working on cutting down poor habits and reinforcing new and exciting lifestyle choices to live healthier, longer.

The first step is simply being conscious of it. The next part is a little more difficult. If you start eating more fruits and vegetables, cut down on salt and unhealthy fats, get some exercise in and cut out smoking, you're well on your way.