CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) — Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. As unnerving as that may sound there is a lot you can do to protect your heart.

It starts with a heart-healthy lifestyle. When it comes to food, the American Heart Association says it’s about choosing foods like fruits and vegetables, while limiting things like saturated fats and added sugars.

  • Veggies: leafy greens, spinach, kale, broccoli.
  • Whole gains: brown rice and plain oatmeal.
  • Dairy: fat-free or low fat.
  • Protein rich foods: nuts and lean meats.
  • Cooking oils: Canola, olive and safflower.

Health experts also suggest closely watching your bad cholesterol or LDL.

“I had patients that had a reading of 180 on the LDL alone eating two dozen eggs a week and they completely eliminate the eggs and their LDL cholesterol alone will fall in half a year by 80 points,” said Dr. James Arcoleo, a cardiologist in Western Massachusetts.

Dr. Arcoleo says fish in high omega-3 fatty acids falls within this meal plan, but added salmon skin can be very fatty, not the type of fat you want in your diet.

Working 45 minutes of exercise into your daily routine is also key to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle.