Four easy ways to improve your heart health

It's a known fact that poor heart health is the number one cause of death in the U.S. due to things like unhealthy diet, sedentary culture and weight gain. However, there are ways to help reverse the effects of damage to the heart and steps you can take to become healthier. Many find making extreme lifestyle changes to be a difficult place to begin. Instead, try starting out with small steps that will get you on the right track to a healthier heart.

Take a daily walk
If you've gotten out of the habit of exercising because of your hectic schedule, get back into the swing of things by simply taking a walk around the block. As this becomes easier, try pumping up your workout a bit more by walking longer distances or even running for short periods of time. You could even opt to add some weights into the mix to tone your arms and legs for an effective workout. The more cardiovascular strength you acquire, the better off your heart will be.

Meal replacements
The more plaque that builds up in the heart, the higher your cholesterol will be. You may be able to control these levels by starting your morning off with a healthy meal replacement shake. They are super delicious, easy to make, fill you up and even work to lower your cholesterol. Try a Total Soy meal replacement, which contains health-healthy soy and delicious flavors. The Food & Drug Administration declared that soy protein may reduce the risk of heart disease. This may also reduce cholesterol and promote weight loss – plus, it's packed with vitamins, protein and fiber. You can opt for delicious flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla!

The vitamin D in soy protein has been shown in studies to be beneficial to the heart. According to Prevention magazine, up to 53 percent of people do not get enough of this vitamin in their diet or through direct sunlight. Meal replacement shakes provide an easy and tasty way to fit this nutrient into a balanced diet.

Get some shut eye
One of the best habits you can get into is getting enough sleep at night. However, this is often easier said than done. But when you see how it's benefiting your heart, you may work a little harder to get to bed earlier.

"Lack of sleep can alter your metabolism, making you prone to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease," explained health expert Dr. Arthur Agatston, creator of the South Beach Diet.

Get on a schedule in which you head to bed at a normal hour every night, allowing you to get a proper amount of sleep. Avoid eating big meals before bed, as this can make it difficult for your body to wind down and get into sleep mode.

Cut out sugary beverages
If your go-to drink is soda or sugary juice, you may be consuming more calories than you realize. But don't worry, you don't have to completely remove these items from your diet. According to Harvard Health Publications, even cutting out just one single sugary soda or latte can save you on average 100 calories per day. This adds up to about a 10 pound weight loss in a year.