Considering that heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, one simply cannot deny the importance of taking care of their heart. Several things can increase your risk of heart disease. While some of these risk factors are not in your control, such as your family history, age, and race, many others, which are the root causes of cardiovascular diseases, are very much controllable. We have compiled together some simple but super effective tips you can follow to keep your precious heart in great shape and live a longer and healthier life.
Have a Heart-Healthy Diet
Being smart about what you eat is essential to maintaining cardiovascular health. For a healthy eating plan, pick foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and added sugar. While we do need fats in our diet, trans fats are unhealthy because they raise your bad cholesterol level and lower your good cholesterol level. When you avoid them in your diet, your arteries won’t clog, and blood flow through them will improve.
How can you avoid trans fats? Trans fats are fats that artificially produced and are mostly found in packaged goods, snacks, margarine, and fried fast foods to enhance their taste. Be more mindful and always read labels before purchasing food, so you can buy items with ideally 0% trans fat. Also, limit your saturated fat intake to just 5 to 6 percent of your total daily calories. Trust us; your heart will thank you!
Some other changes you can bring to your diet is eating an abundant amount of fresh fruits and vegetables since they are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Other than this, they are low in calories, and high in dietary fiber.
It is also a great idea to incorporate in your diet whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish. As far as dairy products are concerned, have low-fat ones. If you choose to eat meat, have lean cuts, and have it less often. However, it’s better to substitute plant protein for animal protein, since it’s low in fat and cholesterol, and high in dietary fiber.
You can find some amazing heart-healthy recipes here.
Say Goodbye to Smoking
It’s never too late to bid goodbye to bad habits that are detrimental to your health. According to research, you are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from a heart attack if you smoke, than a person who doesn’t smoke. If you’re a smoker, know that you’re seriously harming your heart. Tobacco damages the lining of your arteries and your heart, and cigarette smoke decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. As a result, your heart has to work harder to provide oxygen to your body. Quitting smoking is honestly the best thing you can do for your heart.
The good news is that no matter how many years you’ve been a smoker for; your cardiovascular health will start improving in just a day after you quit. It takes a lot of persistence, but it’s something absolutely necessary. You can do it!
Even if you’re not a smoker, you can still harm your heart health if you expose yourself to secondhand smoke, so stay away from smokers.
Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
Keep track of your drinking habits. If you drink too much alcohol, your blood pressure will rise, and you will gain weight because of extra calories. Both these things put you more at risk for heart disease. Not only this, but excessive alcohol will also damage your heart’s muscle.
Since your heart is a muscle, exercise strengthens it just like it strengthens the other muscles of your body. If you find it hard to stick to exercise, find some form of exercising that you enjoy. For example, you might like to dance, or swim, or cycle. Try to get at least 150 minutes of exercise in a week.
Exercising will also help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. All these things will also contribute to keeping your heart healthy.
Get Enough Sleep
No matter how busy your life is, make it a priority to get enough sleep. You should get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Make sure you have a sleep schedule that you follow every night. If you don’t get enough sleep, you are likely to suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. All these things can put you more at risk for heart disease.
If you feel like you frequently suffer from sleep problems, contact your doctor because you could be suffering from sleep apnea. Seek treatment since this condition also harms your heart.
Try to Stress Less
Stress can cause physical discomfort like sweaty hands. It can also do much more. It can be deteriorating your heart health by increasing inflammation in your body. Get rid of your stressors, and try to cope with your stress in healthy ways such as exercising and meditating. If you adopt unhealthy ways to manage stress such as overeating or drinking more, you will just end up weakening your heart.
By following these practical tips, you can definitely boost your heart health. However, you shouldn’t rely on these tips alone. If you notice any symptoms of heart disease, schedule a checkup with a health care provider so they can look into it, and develop a cardiac health plan with you.
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