28 Feb 27 Protips for a Healthy Heart, Part One
Should be obvious to you already, but the health of your heart is of the utmost importance.
But in the United States, it’s apparent that too few of us take our ticker seriously. According to the CDC:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States
- One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
- About 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020—that’s 1 in every 5 deaths
- Heart disease cost the United States about $229 billion each year from 2017 to 2018.3 This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death
So let’s get your heart feeling strong and healthy. Here’s Part 1 of 2 in our mini-series Protips for a Healthy Heart.
There are many steps you can take to help protect your health and blood vessels. Avoiding tobacco is one of the best (and we have a 3-part series about quitting smoking that’ll help!).
In fact, smoking is one of the top controllable risk factors for heart disease. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, the American Heart Association, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all encourage you to quit. It can make a huge difference to not just your heart, but your overall health, too.
Focus on your mid-section
Research in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has linked excess belly fat to higher blood pressure and unhealthy blood lipid levels. If you’re carrying extra fat around your middle, it’s time to slim down. Eating fewer calories and exercising more can make a big difference.
Put your hands to work to help your mind unwind. Engage in calm and quiet activities to relieve stress and do your ticker some good. Some relaxing hobbies to consider:
- knitting, sewing, and crocheting
- jigsaw puzzles
Power up your salsa with beans
When paired with low-fat chips or fresh veggies, salsa offers a delicious and antioxidant-rich snack. Consider mixing in a can of black beans for an added boost of heart-healthy fiber.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a diet rich in soluble fiber can help lower your level of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad cholesterol.” Other rich sources of soluble fiber include oats, barley, apples, pears, and avocados.
Let the music move you
Whether you prefer a rumba beat or Korean hip hop, dancing makes for a great heart-healthy workout. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, it raises your heart rate and gets your lungs pumping. It also burns up to 200 calories or more per hour, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off heart disease. Many fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, suggests the American Heart Association.
If you’re concerned about mercury or other contaminants in fish, you may be happy to learn that its heart-healthy benefits tend to outweigh the risks for most people.
Stand in the place that you live
No matter how much you weigh, sitting for long periods of time could shorten your lifespan, warn researchers in the Archives of Internal Medicine and the American Heart Association. Couch potato and desk jockey lifestyles seem to have an unhealthy effect on blood fats and blood sugar. If you work at a desk, remember to take regular breaks to move around. Go for a stroll on your lunch break, and enjoy regular exercise in your leisure time.
If the entire U.S. population reduced its average salt intake to just half a teaspoon a day, it would significantly cut the number of people who develop coronary heart disease every year, report researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The authors suggest that salt is one of the leading drivers of rising healthcare costs in the United States. Processed and restaurant-prepared foods tend to be especially high in salt. So think twice before filling up on your favorite fast-food fix. Consider using a salt substitute, such as Dash, if you have high blood pressure or heart failure.
Raise a glass
Moderate consumption of alcohol can help raise your levels of HDL, or good cholesterol. It can also help prevent blood clot formation and artery damage. According to the Mayo Clinic, red wine in particular may offer benefits for your heart. That doesn’t mean you should guzzle it at every meal. The key is to only drink alcohol in moderation.
Stretch it out
Yoga can help you improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. It can help you relax and relieve stress. As if that’s not enough, yoga also has potential to improve heart health. According to research published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, yoga demonstrates potential to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Laugh out loud
Don’t just LOL in emails or Facebook posts. Laugh out loud in your daily life. Whether you like watching funny movies or cracking jokes with your friends, laughter may be good for your heart. According to the AHA, research suggests laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise your levels of high-density lipoprotein (HLD), also known as “good cholesterol.”
Find your happy place
Pump some iron
Aerobic fitness is key to keeping your heart healthy, but it’s not the only type of exercise you should do. It’s also important to include regular strength training sessions in your schedule. The more muscle mass you build, the more calories you burn. That can help you maintain a heart-healthy weight and fitness level.
Stay tuned for next week’s conclusion of our Protips for a Healthy Heart mini-series!
This article was brought to you by the Proactive Health Management Plan in partnership with Healthline.
Joyce S TowePosted at 13:33h, 13 March
Michael KaplanPosted at 22:46h, 10 March
Cheryl foehnerPosted at 17:31h, 10 March