Lifestyle Changes for Improved Heart Health
According to the CDC, in 2010 heart disease was the #1 cause of death for Americans. While the numbers may have shifted slightly, the fact is, heart disease is still one of the top causes of death around the world.
There is no disputing that good heart health is vital for a long life. The cardiovascular system may be complex but its health can be improved naturally. Your lifestyle is the first defense against heart disease. Simple lifestyle changes that follow a holistic, natural plan will enable you to lead a long active life.
As a Registered Dietitian I can offer you some tips:
Let’s take a look at some heart-healthy lifestyle choices you can incorporate today.
– Eliminate all refined sugars. Substitute with natural sweeteners like honey and molasses.
– Avoid crop oils like soy, corn and canola. Instead, choose olive oil and rice bran oil for cooking. Sesame and coconut oil are good for salad dressings.
– Add nuts and plant sterols to your lunch or dinner. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your heart.
– Cut back on sodium intake. Sodium can raise blood pressure levels, making the heart work harder.
– Avoid stress as much as possible. Determine what causes you the most stress and eliminate them from your life. Whether it’s the news, email, a job, a friend or family member, your life is more important than the stress these items cause. Stress can raise blood pressure, your heart rate and the hormone cortisol. Reduce stress that you cannot eliminate by listening to music, breathing deeply, and taking short breaks often.
– Kick the smoking habit for good. Smoking is a huge risk factor to heart disease. Kick the habit, though, and you reduce your risk. If you can’t do it alone, get help.
– One glass of alcohol a day for women can help reduce heart disease risk. Keep it limited to the one glass as more alcohol can cause high blood pressure.
– Read food labels carefully to avoid trans-fats, sodium and hidden sugars.
– Add cayenne to your diet. Cayenne tea is effective for improving your circulation and heart health.
– Get active. Thirty minutes each day of exercise is necessary for managing heart health. It helps lower your blood pressure, improve cholesterol and aids in weight management. Activities like gardening, climbing stairs, housekeeping or just walking the dog count as exercise.
– Add some weight training to your exercise routine. Strength training reduces your weight and builds muscle mass and endurance.
– Control your cholesterol levels and blood pressure with diet and medicines if necessary.
– Reduce your blood sugar. Diabetes can cause major problems with the cardiovascular system, blocking blood vessels and accelerating atherosclerosis. Diet and medications can control blood sugar.
– Manage a healthy weight. Obesity and being overweight can aggravate most health problems that lead to cardiovascular disease. Lose weight through a healthy food diet and exercise.
– Scrub your hands often with soap and water. Infections and the flu can be hard on the heart.
– Count your blessings. Spend time finding positive things to be thankful for each day. Positive emotions lead to less stress and worry.
– Add vitamin and mineral supplements to boost heart health.
As you can see, these are easy-to-follow lifestyle changes that anyone can make.
Take a proactive approach to heart health. Rather than waiting until symptoms show up, start now before problems develop. Simple lifestyle changes can lead to a very healthy heart, improved mood and an overall feeling of well-being.