• Mayo Clinic Minute: Myth-busting heart health

What do you really need to do to improve your heart health? Some people may think that you have to make sweeping lifestyle changes. Dr. Jordan Ray, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says small changes can add up to big improvements. He has information to bust three myths about heart health.

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"Patients who come to see me in clinic often think that avoiding cardiovascular outcomes requires a dramatic, huge lifestyle," says Dr. Ray.

Myth No. 1 is exercise. You don't have to join a gym or be a triathlete.

"If you just have a structured walking routine that you're getting cardiovascular benefits, that can be a gateway to more intense exercise. But it's important to just get up and walk for 20, 35 minutes," says Dr. Ray.

No. 2 is diet. You don't have to eat a boring diet to be heart-healthy.

"The traditional diet that I recommend is the Mediterranean diet," says Dr. Ray.

Eat veggies, fish, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, and limit added sugar and alcohol.

No. 3 is putting it altogether. Dr. Ray says that some patients say that they'll eat really well, but won't exercise.

It's best to do both. But take baby steps, and work in good habits slowly.

"Some of these subtle things that you can do can have dramatic benefits in the long term," says Dr. Ray.

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