TIPS FOR A HEALTHY HEART
A healthy heart is an essential part of a healthy body. The heart is responsible for pumping blood to all parts of the body, and when it stops working, the rest of the body stops working. There are many things that people can do to keep their hearts healthy and prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. It accounts for 17.3 million deaths each year – that’s nearly every three seconds one person dies from heart disease, making it the number one killer in America.
Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack, or any other type of cardiovascular disease. Keeping your heart healthy and strong is vital to your overall health and well-being. With my tips, you will be able to improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Help your heart by exercising regularly
Physical activity helps to keep your heart strong and fit, but many people lead inactive lifestyles. This can increase the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. If you’re not used to doing much exercise, start by doing a little more than you do now – for example, walk instead of taking the bus or get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way. Try not to spend long periods sitting down – take every opportunity to move around when you’re at work.
Aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure while improving the function of your heart and lungs. A daily 30-minute walk is a great start.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet.
The food you eat plays a big part in keeping your heart healthy. Eating a lot of saturated and trans fats can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood. High cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease, so it’s important to cut down on foods containing saturated fat.
It’s best to try to replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats found in fish, vegetables, and some margarine and spreads. You should also eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and starchy carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, and potatoes – these foods are good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Manage your stress.
Stressful situations increase cortisol levels, which can wreak havoc on blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels. Find ways to relax so that you’re better equipped to respond calmly when faced with problems or deadlines at work or home.
- Keep blood pressure under control.
High blood pressure damages arteries and other blood vessels throughout the body and is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Keeping blood pressure low can help minimize this damage. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough exercise, and eating a balanced diet can all help keep blood pressure within a normal range.
- Watch your cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol levels are also associated with cardiovascular disease. Eating saturated fats, trans fats, and foods that contain high amounts of cholesterol can increase cholesterol levels in the blood, as can obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, and diabetes. A balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods can help keep cholesterol levels within normal ranges and reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends keeping total cholesterol less than 200, LDL levels (the “bad” cholesterol) less than 100, and blood pressure below 120/80.
- Limit your sodium.
The more salt you eat, the greater your risk of cardiovascular disease. A healthy adult should have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of salt). Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups, baked goods, and frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your soups can reduce the amount of salt you eat. If you like the convenience of canned soup and prepared meals, look for ones with reduced sodium.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are great sources of vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber which helps keep you full and satisfied. Vegetables and fruits, like other plants or plant-based foods, contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you cut back on higher-calorie foods, such as meat, cheese, and snack foods.
- Control Your Portion Size
How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Following a few simple tips to control food portion size can help you shape up your diet as well as your heart and waistline:
- Use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions.
- Eat more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables
- Eat smaller amounts of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed, or fast foods.