Best Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

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Your heart health is vitally important for your longevity!  The most important thing to remember is that maintaining good heart health is just as important when you are younger as it is when you are getting older. The name of the game is minimizing damage throughout your life instead of trying to reverse damage when you are older. Most of the recommendations below can be done no matter what age and can help your health in multiple ways.

1.) Reduce your sitting time!

More and more research is coming out that says increased amount of sitting or sedentary lifestyle is the most damaging to your heart health.  It doesn’t mean that you have to be hitting the gym 6 days a week for hours on end to be healthy.  Just the act of getting up and moving is going to help your heart.  But of course regular physical activity is even more beneficial.

Start implementing a more mobile lifestyle for everyone in the family.  Kids have been more sedentary in the last few decades then ever before thanks to TV, video games and tablets.  Getting kids up and moving has been a health care initiative for many years.  Michelle Obama set up the Let’s Move program to help educate families on how to have less sedentary lifestyles. Please refer to the link below for more information on the Let’s Move program.

www.letsmove.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/

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2.) Physical Activity.

A step above reducing a sedentary lifestyle is increasing physical activity.  Most professionals recommend that everyone should be getting 210 minutes of physical activity per week.  Physical activity involves three things: stretching, strength training and cardiovascular activity.

We have recently posted multiple blogs on how to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.  Feel free to glance at those blogs for further information on physical activity.

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3.) Eat more produce.

If fruits and vegetables are not a part of your daily diet then any amount that you can increase your produce intake will be beneficial.  Fruits are a great addition to breakfast or to replace any calorie dense snacks during the day. Since fruits are considered “nature’s candy” they can also be a great thin to eat to curb sugar cravings.  Non-starchy vegetables are a great way to stay full without going over your calorie goals.  Start by mixing vegetables into meals.  EX: broccoli in your pasta, vegetables mixed with your rice like a stir fry.  We ultimately recommend you eat 2 fruits and 3 to 4 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day.  This is a great way to increase fiber intake which will help lower your LDL and increase your HDL levels.  Eating more fiber can also help to keep you full longer which can help cut calories and lead to weight loss.  Here is a list of the healthiest produce for your heart.

  • Green Leafy Vegetables: they are high in Vitamin K and nitrates which help reduce your blood pressure.
  • Berries: there have been multiple studies that show eating berries on a regular basis lowered LDL levels.
  • Avocados: they are a great source of monounsaturated fats which help lower your cholesterol levels.
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4.) Increase Healthy Fats.

There are multiple types of fat that can be in your diet.  Monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fats are the ones that can help improve your heart health.  They help improve heart health by lowering “bad” cholesterol levels like your LDL.  These types of fats also help reduce plaque buildup in your arteries.  Saturated fats are the fats that increase plaque buildup in your arteries and these fats are typically found in animal products: red meats, processed meats, high fat dairy products and eggs.  In the long run, replacing more of the unhealthy fats you eat with these MUFA’s and PUFA’s can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

  • Nut and seeds:  walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seed
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Fatty fish: salmon, mackerel, sardines
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5.) Decrease belly fat.

Just the act of losing weight can help with your heart health.  The more weight you have to carry around means more stress for your heart.  Luckily if you start implementing some of the things recommended in this blog weight loss can be a side effect of the healthier lifestyle.  Feel free to refer to all of our other blogs which help give you knowledge, tools and recipes to aide in weight loss!

6.) Get your blood pressure under control.

Having uncontrolled blood pressure puts extra strain on your heart over time.  It is very important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.  If you are diagnosed with hypertension then your primary care physician will most likely ask you to follow the recommendations we have already listed as well as a few others.

  • The best way to reduce high blood pressure is by reducing your processed food and salt/sodium intake.  Increased salt intake causes water retention which naturally increases blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure you should be limiting your salt intake to 1500 mg per day. You can find the amount of sodium that is in your food on the nutrition label.
  • Quit smoking.  the nicotine in cigarettes increases your blood pressure and heart rate.  Smoking also increases your risk for blood clots.
  • Cut back on caffeine.  Caffeine can cause a short term increase in your blood pressure
  • Monitor your alcohol consumption.  Alcohol can be inflammatory and increase your blood pressure.  Try to limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.

 

7.) Reduce stress.

There will always be some amount of stress in your life.  There a moments when stress is higher then others. Stress can effect our heart health a few ways.

  • Stress can increase your blood pressure and heart rate which will in turn lead to heart damage over time.
  • Stress can lead to stress eating.  This can increase your weight leading to obesity.  Stress eating can also lead to increased consumption of processed and high salt food.  Both of these have been discussed previously as a cause of heart disease.
  • Stress causes increased cortisol levels in your body which can lead to inflammation.

There are a few tried and true ways to help reduce the effects of stress on your mind and body.

  • Breathing exercises:  uniform deep breaths in and out can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Meditation:  this can help you declutter your thoughts and help calm your mind.
  • Exercise: helps release serotonin and dopamine to reduce stress hormones.
  • Listening to calming music:  find music that calms your mind and something that sparks happy feelings.
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