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Heart Health: 11 Tips (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 01/10/11 08:53 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

We know, you've heard all this heart-health stuff before: Get your cholesterol down. Take that Spinning class. Order the salmon. Yawn. But there are some things you may not have heard about how to keep this marvelous muscle going strong: Check your waistband. Pay attention to your pregnancies. Don't skip date night. Intrigued? Check out the latest ways to show your heart some love.

Eat Less Saturated Fats
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You know: to eat right and keep your weight down.

You maybe didn’t know: We’re not just talking about nixing marbled steak and trans-fat-filled fries. It’s also about blood sugar, says Nieca Goldberg, M.D., director of the New York University Women’s Heart Program and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.

Your body responds to high blood sugar by pumping out more insulin to try to turn that sugar into energy. "Too much insulin raises your triglycerides and causes inflammation of the arteries, making them more vulnerable to hardening," Dr. Goldberg explains.

Do this: In addition to choosing a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, eat lots of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, says Nakela Cook, M.D., MPH, medical officer at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Also, go easy on sweets and refined carbs, which can send blood sugar and insulin levels soaring. The American Heart Association recommends having just six teaspoons of added sugar per day.

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Filed by Nicholas Miriello  |