4 Fit & Healthy Stocks to Love on World Heart Day

Over 80% of deaths are attributable to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in low- and middle-income countries including heart disease and stroke - World Heart Federation.

Everybody everywhere seems to be busy given escalating demand at work coupled with long working hours that we've become hard pressed for time to look after ourselves. This inevitably is taking a toll on our bodies. Lack of exercise, a poor diet and unhealthy habits invite stress leading to heart and other cardiovascular and non-communicable diseases (NCD).

World Heart Day, observed on Sep 29 every year, is aimed at encouraging people to reduce their cardiovascular risk and promote a heart-healthy planet. This World Heart Day, the World Federation focus is on creating heart-healthy environments by ensuring that people are able to make healthy choices wherever they live, work and play. "Keep a healthy heart, so we won't be apart" should be the new 21 st century motto.

Did You Know?

Per data provided in the Global Atlas on cardiovascular disease prevention and stroke, 2011 (published by the World Health Organization in collaboration with the World Heart Federation and the World Stroke Organization) more than 17.3 million deaths each year are caused by CVD (including heart attacks and cerebrovascular diseases like strokes), thereby making it the number one cause of mortality in the world today. Every year, 15 million people across the world suffer a stroke, which is the second leading cause of death above the age of 60 years.

According to information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year.

Cardiovascular Risk Factors - Risk factors associated with CVD can be divided into three groups - behavioral (tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet - rich in salt, fat and calories, harmful use of alcohol), metabolic (hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, overweight and obesity) and other risk factors (advancing age, psychological factors like stress, depression, genetic disposition). While some risk factors like family history cannot be modified, other factors like high blood pressure and hypertension can be controlled with treatment.

While death knocks on the door for some, others suffer from permanent disability. Disability may include loss of vision and/or speech, paralysis and confusion.

Indulge Less, Enjoy More

You're never too young - or too old - to take care of your heart - The American Heart Association.

Given the heightened level of awareness created by governments, health care professionals, employers and NGOs, people across the world are becoming more and more health conscious. And eating healthy is high on their agenda. Apart from including foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium, fruits and vegetables have once again resurfaced in diets while "junk food" is on its way out. In addition, the prime importance of physical fitness is only too keenly felt. Daily rounds of walking, jogging, running among others have found a place in the work-a-day routine.

In fact, companies like Google Inc. GOOGL , Microsoft Corporation MSFT and General Electric are encouraging their employees to stay fit and healthy. They provide a wide range of benefits including health insurance, flexible work hours, free gym membership, mental health counseling, health education classes, healthier food choices at cafeterias, and vacations in order to make the work environment less stressful.

With the winds of change, companies too are not behind in making the most of the fitness rage. In particular, the food industry has witnessed significant changes in terms of consumer preferences toward products with less artificial sweeteners, sodium and saturated fat. Companies like The Kroger Co., Campbell Soup Company, Boulder Brands, Inc. and The WhiteWave Foods among others have a strong presence in the organic and natural food business. Per data provided by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the organic food industry now represents almost 5% of total food sales in the U.S.

Meanwhile, technology companies like Apple Inc. AAPL , Fitbit Inc. FIT , and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. among others have come up with fitness tracking devices like high-tech watches. These trackers, which are worn on the body typically as a wristband, record calories burned, number of steps taken and even sleeping patterns. They typically include larger touchscreen displays, compatibility with phones, music and mobile applications.

An Apple Watch not only measures all the ways you move - like walking the dog, taking the stairs or playing with your kids - it also keeps track of when you stand up and encourages you to be on your toes.

4 Hale & Hearty Stocks to Keep You Fit

Although picking the correct stocks from so many options could be a daunting task, our proprietary methodology makes it fairly simple. One way to narrow down the list of choices is by looking at stocks that carry a favorable Zacks Rank - Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold).

San Francisco, CA-based Fitbit Inc. is focused on health and fitness related wearable activity tracking devices. It also offers compatible mobile applications by allowing users to track their information so that they could further interact with their personal data.

Currently, the company offers six wearable connected health and fitness trackers that are wrist-based and clippable devices automatically tracking users' daily steps, calories burned, distance traveled, floors climbed and active minutes spent. They display real-time feedback to encourage users to become more active. Additionally, the company offers a Wi-Fi connected scale that records weight, body fat and body mass index (BMI).

Fitbit, carrying a healthy Zacks Rank #3, started trading from Jun 2015 and has already earned its name as a leading global health and fitness brand. Considering that the demand for fitness tracking devices is growing, the company with a long-term EPS growth rate of 23.8% is a good pick at the moment.

Our second pick is Lake Success, NY-based The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.HAIN - one of the leading natural and organic foods as well as personal care products companies with operations in North America, Europe and India. Some of its well-known brands are Earth's Best, Ella's Kitchen, Celestial Seasonings, Terra, Garden of Eatin', Sensible Portions, The Greek Gods, Spectrum and Spectrum Essentials. This Zacks Rank #3 stock has an impressive long-term EPS growth rate of 13.3%. The company is well-poised for growth riding on the organic food wave.

Headquartered in Vancouver, WA, Nautilus Inc.NLS is a Zacks Rank #2 stock focused on designing, developing, sourcing and marketing high-quality cardio and strength fitness products and related accessories for consumer use, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. The company with a long-term EPS growth rate of 10.0% has a brand portfolio of fitness products which include Nautilus, Bowflex, TreadClimber, Schwinn, Schwinn Fitness and Universal.

And all is not lost… People can prevent heart disease with a host of CVD drugs offered by a wide range of health care companies. CVD drugs comprises all classes of drugs used for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart failure, acute stroke, abnormal rhythms of the heart, chest pain and other cardiac disorders.

Oaks, CA-based Amgen Inc.AMGN is a biotech company with a robust cardiovascular portfolio consisting of approved products as well as experimental candidates targeting high cholesterol and heart failure. The company recently gained approval for two important products - Corlanor (chronic heart failure) and Repatha (LDL-C lowering PCSK9 inhibitor). Repatha has multi-billion dollar sales potential.

Presently, heart failure treatment, omecamtiv mecarbil is in phase II development. This Zacks Rank #2 stock with a long-term EPS growth rate of 9.4% is further looking to build its presence in the CVD market. Amgen will be acquiring privately held, Netherlands-based biotech company, Dezima, focused on developing treatments for dyslipidemia. Once the acquisition goes through, an oral, once-daily CETP inhibitor currently in mid-stage development will be added to Amgen's CVD pipeline. The acquisition is slated to close later this year.

Meanwhile, companies like Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, Novartis and Bristol-Myers Squibb are offering a wide range of drugs targeting diabetes, heart failure, and high cholesterol among others. They are racing to develop better and safer treatment options with limited side effects. The CVD market also remains a dynamic therapeutic area with tremendous growth potential due to a huge pipeline of promising products across companies.

Bottom Line

Maintaining a healthy life style with a busy schedule has become increasingly important - it just needs a few changes to your lifestyle that will pay off in the long run and help prevent CVD and NCDs. The world needs to come together to reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke and ensure longer and better lives.

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APPLE INC (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report

MICROSOFT CORP (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report

AMGEN INC (AMGN): Free Stock Analysis Report

HAIN CELESTIAL (HAIN): Free Stock Analysis Report

NAUTILUS INC (NLS): Free Stock Analysis Report

FITBIT INC (FIT): Free Stock Analysis Report

GOOGLE INC-CL A (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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