A prescription for healthy living. Live longer and feel better by following these six basic steps.

1. Eat right to reduce cholesterol

Almost 40 per cent of Canadians have high blood cholesterol levels. "If [our bodies] make too much cholesterol or we get too much in our diet, levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) can rise, which can contribute to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke," says naturopathic doctor Kathryn Nobrega-Porter of Wellpath Clinic (www.wellpathclinic.com).

Take the first step

Cut saturated and trans fats linked to LDL cholesterol and replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in many nuts, seeds and oils from plants like soybean, safflower, canola, olive and sunflower. Eat oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel or take an omega-3 supplement.

Add a nutrition fix

Nuts, particularly almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts, reduce cholesterol levels by 10 to 15 points, says Nobrega-Porter. Men who ate nuts two or more times a week cut their risk of sudden cardiac arrest almost in half compared with men who rarely or never ate nuts, reports the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Boost it with exercise

More intense exercise — brisk walking, jogging, biking or gardening — is better than moderate exercise for lowering cholesterol. Duke University Medical Center found that those who got vigorous exercise (jogging 32 kilometres a week) lowered their LDL cholesterol level more than those doing more moderate exercise (walking or jogging 19 kilometres a week).

2. Lower blood pressure naturally

Hypertension, or high blood pressure (defined as 140/90), is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood through the body. But there are things you can do to keep your levels healthy (120/80).

Take the first step

Reduce stress, which can be a major contributor to high blood pressure. Anything that you find relaxing — Pilates, yoga, deep breathing, listening
to music — keeps your stress response under control.

Add a nutrition fix

Foods rich in magnesium, such as whole grains,raisins, soybeans, avocado and beets, can help lower blood pressure. Boost it with exercise Taking brisk 10-minute walks four times a day can decrease your blood pressure for 11 hours, reports the Journal of Hypertension. A continuous 40-minute walk keeps it down for about seven hours.

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