Keeping your heart healthy is the most important thing you can do to help prevent and manage heart disease. Adopt these simple rules to keep your heart healthy in February and beyond.
Improve your diet with natural, heart-healthy foods high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, strengthen your heart through exercise and much more. Click to find out.
Heart Health in February and Beyond – American Heart Month
Falling behind on your New Year’s resolution? January may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start something new. February is American Heart Month, and that makes now an ideal time to think about how to get a healthy heart. Even though American Heart Month has been teaching us how to get a healthy heart since 1964, cardiovascular disease is still the cause of 17.3 million deaths per year across the globe. The CDC cites heart disease as the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. But how do you keep a healthy heart without understanding the causes of heart disease?
What is Heart Disease?
The Heart Foundation The Heart Foundation uses heart disease as a catch-all term for the several heart-related diseases that can affect adults. When discussing preventable heart disease, the Heart Foundation and other organizations are referring to coronary artery disease. Also called coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease, this occurs when arteries that supply necessary blood to the heart are blocked by plaque. This plaque is made of extra fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood. So, the big question is: what are the ways to keep a healthy heart?
5 Simple Tips: What Can You Do to Keep Your Heart Healthy?
Knowing what causes heart disease can help you know how to keep your heart healthy and fit. During the month of February, we challenge you to start developing habits to maintain a healthy heart. To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled these heart healthy tips to show you how to become heart healthy in simple steps.
Tip #1: Change Your Diet
You might think that because plaque build-up is caused by fat, cholesterol and calcium, it’s important to avoid those substances completely. That’s only partly true. Fat, cholesterol, and calcium are all good for the human body when taken in moderation. The key to how to keep your heart healthy lies in a healthy diet.
The simple way to maintain a diet for heart health is eating low amounts of salt, trans fats, and saturated fats. Eating more unsaturated fats however is quite healthy. To follow these guidelines, consider exploring the Mediterranean Diet. Below are a few recommended foods you can start incorporating into your diet, which also fit in with Mediterranean eating habits.
- – A good source of unsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known being beneficial to your brain.
- Fruits and Vegetables
- – If you aren’t already eating plenty of them, now is the time. An easy way to start is by introducing fruit to your breakfast in the morning, or eating a salad with low-fat dressing during dinner.
- – This is another food that contains good fats! Nuts are a great way to snack throughout the day, without sacrificing your health.
- – Hopefully you’re drinking 8 glasses a day – and soda doesn’t count! Cutting out juice, soda, and other unnecessary calories is a great way to improve your health. Drink water instead.
Though it is not officially endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA), the eating habits of people in the Mediterranean are usually in line with AHA recommendations. In fact, people who live in the Mediterranean have lower instances of heart disease compared to people in the United States. Is this due to diet alone? Probably not. But their diet for heart health certainly helps!
Tip #2: Exercise
The best way we know how to strengthen a heart is through exercise. Obesity alone can increase your risk of heart disease, even if none of the other factors affect your life. If you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to keep the blood flowing. To prevent obesity, it’s important to maintain a regular exercise program for a healthy heart. Exercising helps to maintain a healthy weight, lower cholesterol, strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, and sometimes even lower blood pressure.
The easiest way to start exercising is to simply start walking! Walking is a simple way to strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system. It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Don’t have that much time? Try exercising for 20 minutes a day, three days a week – but you’ll have to make your work outs more intense than walking!
If the idea of walking every day for 30 minutes seems like too much, start small. The Harvard Medical School ] suggests starting to walk for as little as 10 minutes a day, then working your way up. Remember that every small change helps when working for a strong heart.
Tip #3: Drink Less Alcohol
You may be surprised to learn that one drink of alcohol per day has actually been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, if you plan to follow the Mediterranean diet, one glass of wine each day can be beneficial to your health.
It’s important to remember to stop at one drink. Excessive drinking can increase the risk of heart disease by increasing blood pressure and affecting healthy weight levels. It is recommended that women have no more than one alcoholic drink per day and men have no more than two. If you usually have more than one or two drinks per day, it may be time to cut back to help prevent heart disease.
Tip #4: Quit Smoking
If you’re not a cigarette smoker yet, keep it that way! CNN cites smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States – and that includes deaths from heart disease. Smoking causes plaque to build up in your arteries, much like unhealthy foods. Avoiding cigarettes is an easy way to help prevent heart disease.
Was quitting cigarettes your New Year’s resolution this year? If it wasn’t already, it should be now! Not only is it better for your lung health, it’s better for an overall heart healthy lifestyle. Asking for help while quitting is extremely common, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor for medicine or counseling recommendations.
Tip #5: Talk to Your Doctor
Perhaps the number one step in preventing heart disease is speaking with your primary care doctor. The Heart Foundation suggests having an honest conversation with your doctor so you understand your personal risk for heart disease. He or she understands your health, and will be able to offer recommendations and heart healthy tips on how to reach your goal for a strong heart.
Your doctor may recommend medication or heart health supplements to lower blood pressure or control cholesterol levels. Some patients who are at serious risk take an aspirin every day to reduce the chances of a heart attack. Your doctor will be able to offer specific recommendations if you are hoping to make changes to your diet and exercise routines.
Remember that developing habits to maintain a healthy heart takes time, and changes happen gradually. But keep at it! Heart Health Month 2018 is in February after all. You still have the rest of the year to see results. Stick with your resolution to live a heart healthy lifestyle. Your future self will be glad did your part to help prevent heart disease.