The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system. There many ways you can protect your heart and health. Following a healthy diet, staying happy and stressfree, and exercising regularly routinely are key strategies for a healthy heart. This is also vital for your overall health.
To protect and improve heart health, you need to know the things that you should do and avoid. Here are some simple ways to protect and improve heart health:
- Avoid Stress: Long-term stress can increase the levels of cortisol, which can cause blood cholesterol, blood pressure, sugar levels, and triglycerides to increase. Stress reduces the blood flow to the heart muscle, and more, and has been identified as a risk factor for heart disease. So, identify the cause of your stress and learn to manage it.
- Take steps to resolve constant depression or anxiety: Studies have found that anxiety or long-term emotional stress can increase the risk for sudden cardiac death. Try activities like yoga, meditation, or other methods that make can you feel good and improve your health. Also, share your problems with someone you feel comfortable. Discuss matters with your provider and follow his/her guidance on addressing depression and anxiety.
- Reduce excess body weight: Excess fat, especially belly fat, increases risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and harmful forms of cholesterol. It leads to plaque deposits in the arteries and can cause a heart attack. Obesity reduces the capacity of the heart to pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. A recent study found that people of normal weight who have belly fat have a higher risk of dying. To avoid fat build-up, focus on foods that keep your daily calorie intake low naturally, such as
- Water-rich whole grains
- Whole fruits
Women should maintain a waist circumference of less than 35 inches, men, less than 40 inches. To learn whether you at a healthy weight, calculate your Body Mass Index by entering your height and weight and see if it ranges between the normal value 18.5 and 25.
If you find you are not at a healthy weight, do what’s necessary to achieve it.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking can cause irregular heart rhythm, increase heart rate, and constrict the major arteries. All this will affect the heart’s functioning. Smoking raises blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke. Other life-threatening conditions that smoking can cause are lung cancer, breathing problems, kidney cancer, emphysema. If you have problems quitting, consult your doctor for proper advice.
- Limit alcohol intake: Excess consumption of alcohol can lead to an increased risk of hypertension, weakened heart muscles, and irregular heartbeat.
- Control food portion size: While maintaining a proper diet, it is equally important to regulate how much you eat. Consider having larger portions of low-calories foods that are rich in nutrients such as fruits and vegetables, and smaller portions of high-calorie food high in sodium such as processed, refined, or fast food. Always keep track of your food intake. Consult your healthcare provider before you start any new diet.
- Foods to avoid: For a stronger, healthier heart, stay away from foods that are high in trans fat and saturated fat. Avoid or limit the following foods:
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Non-dairy creamer
- Baked goods
The American Heart Association recommends not consuming more than 14 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of trans fat daily.
- Foods to include: To minimize the risk of heart disease, stick to a balanced diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B/folic acid, and fiber. Foods to eat:
- Walnuts, Soybeans, Lake Trout, and Salmon are omega-3 fatty acids content foods that reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure and prevent plaque buildup, the American Heart Association recommended to consume fatty fish at least two times a week.
- Spinach, Bananas, Sweet Potatoes, and Avocados are potassium content foods, it reduces blood pressure and balance the sodium effect. 4700milligrams per day recommended by the American Heart Association.
- Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, and Asparagus are rich in Vitamin B/ folic acid, lowers levels of homocysteine in the blood. It is good if you include it every day in your diet.
- Oatmeal, Apple with skin, Lentils, and raisins are rich in fiber. It lowers blood pressure and bad cholestrol, and also reduces inflammation. Experts said that women should consume 25g and men should consume 38g of dietary fiber.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps to improve blood circulation throughout the body and strengthens the heart muscles just like it strengthens the muscles of other parts of the body. It pushes more blood with each beat, allows the heart to beat slower, and keeps blood pressure under control. It reduces the risk of diabetes and also improves mood and mental functioning thus improves heart health and overall health. Do exercises like:
- Aerobic Exercise
- Resistance Training
- Laugh more often: The American Heart Association cites research which shows that laughing every day can manage stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise the level of good cholesterol. So for a healthy heart, consider watching funny movies, crack jokes with your friends, or do anything that will make you laugh.
Follow these simple tips to boost heart health. Seek expert advice from your healthcare provider before beginning activities like yoga, exercise, and also about your diet. Get early treatment for health problems. Remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle by following a proper diet, avoiding stress, and exercising regularly, and stay happy, motivated, and cheerful.