The heart plays an essential role in your body, but heart problems are still all too common. The unfortunate truth is that as many as 7.6 million people in the UK have a chronic heart or circulatory disease.
Fortunately, heart health doesn’t have to be too complicated. Let’s talk about what you can do to keep your heart healthy for a long time. Below you can see some top heart health tips that will help you keep your heart muscles young!
Most Important Factors of Heart Health
Let’s skip the section where we talk about why heart health is important. If you don’t already know, your heart plays an essential role in your overall health, as it keeps your blood flowing to all of your essential organs like your brain.
Heart problems are some of the scariest health issues a person can have, and avoiding them at all costs is the best way to set yourself up to live a long and healthy life. Here are the factors you should consider when it comes to heart health.
Blood pressure is the measure of the force with which your heart pumps are exerting on the walls of your blood vessels. The systolic blood pressure is the force in your arteries travelling away from your heart as it beats. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in your arteries between beats.
Ideally, you want your blood pressure to be kept as close to 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. This is a general rule of thumb that won’t apply to everybody, but that is considered healthy for the average person.
Keeping your blood pressure in good shape involves limiting your salt intake, staying hydrated, and increasing your physical activity by exercising.
Let’s make this very clear: your heart is a muscle. Would you expect to get stronger and stronger muscles if you’re never lifting weights?
Our muscles deteriorate over time, especially if we aren’t putting them to use. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “use it or lose it”, muscle health is a perfect example of this.
To strengthen your heart, it is highly recommended to aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week.
Your heart is constantly active, even when you aren’t thinking about it. In your sleep, while you sit, in the shower, in the car, or every other circumstance of your life. However, it needs to be properly exercised to both rest and function correctly.
Nutrition, Food & Diet
You are what you eat. Nutrition plays a huge factor in the health of your overall body, but there are specific nutrients that are important to heart health.
First, maintaining a healthy weight and body fat content is very important to heart health. Excess weight will force your heart to strain more throughout the day.
Next, your blood needs to be able to flow without hindrance. Arteries with clogs or buildup will force your blood to work harder, and the most common cause for this is an improper diet. Hydration is also crucial for proper blood flow, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. Improper nutrition leads to higher cholesterol levels, which pose a risk for heart disease development over time, leading to cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease or even an increased risk of heart attack.
Lastly, you need a wide variety of antioxidants and other supportive nutrients. Your heart will be negatively impacted by nearly any part of your body not functioning properly, so keeping your entire system in good health is important.
Tips For a Healthy Heart
Genetics, previous lifestyle choices, and environmental factors will play a role in your heart health, but there is a lot you can do to help keep it safe. If you’re looking to keep your heart in shape for your life, then here are some healthy heart tips to get started on as early as possible.
Exercise & Activity
Truly embracing the healthy-heart lifestyle is the best way to keep your heart in shape, and that all starts with exercise.
Many elderly people can’t bend over to perform regular activities that we take for granted like weeding our gardens, putting on socks, or picking up something we dropped. However, many of those who had practiced these movements repeatedly throughout their lives can still carry out these tasks in their older years. This is the same for your heart. Repeating exercise throughout your life will help keep your heart working strong as you grow older.
Exercise will help your heart to rest and function throughout the day without any issues. A proper cardiovascular exercise will help you reduce your resting heart rate, increase your heart strength, and allow for proper blood flow.
They say that if some medicines were devised that could do everything that exercise does for your body, it would be the greatest achievement in medical history.
Find an exercise routine that you enjoy, that fits your capabilities, and that you see yourself doing for a long time. Here are some great examples for cardiovascular training for all fitness levels:
- Walking, especially brisk walking
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Martial arts
The list goes on. There’s no harm in trying out different activities, especially aerobic activity and seeing what works for you. The only “bad workout” is the one that didn’t happen. we recommend, ideally, at least 30 minutes of activity a day, five days a week. If this might seem too much, we recommend getting an activity tracker app that will help you remind to keep on moving!
You can also choose activities that don’t even feel like exercise. Play a team sport, play tennis, or do whatever you enjoy! Just get your body moving!
Eat The Right Foods
The keys you need to focus on are eating a variety of healthy micronutrients and quality fats. The main factor for heart disease and cardiovascular diseases is diet, so for a heart-healthy diet, you should also avoid unhealthy fats, starches, and cholesterol, thus decreasing any risk factor you might show.
We could go into all of the micronutrients that impact heart health, but there’s no point. You don’t need to hear about the different antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and more to get enough of them. All you need to remember is one word: colour.
When it comes to eating enough quality micronutrients, colour is key. Your plate should always include multiple colours of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods.
Adding a salad to your meals is the easiest way to achieve your colour needs, and you should try to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
While diversity is key for your diet, there are some important foods to use for heart health, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are some of the most beneficial vegetables you can find, so try your best to incorporate these into your diet.
Plenty of fruit will always help, but for fruits, berries are kind. Blueberries have particular benefits for your heart and brain health while making for a delicious snack!
Having a balanced diet will also help with your body weight, and regular exercise can help you with weight loss!
Next, you want to eat a variety of quality fats. Fatty, oily fish like salmon and trout provide plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent for heart and joint health.
You should also eat a wide variety of nuts and seeds, as they are nutritional powerhouses, especially for your heart. In fact, eating nuts every day is directly linked to a longer life.
Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews are the best options. They come with a wide variety of omega fats and other important nutrients. Adding coconut oil, olive oil, and avocados into your diet will help you reach the rest of your fat needs.
Avoid Dangerous Foods
We aren’t going to give you a list of bad foods because you likely already know them. If they have high quantities of low-quality fat and bad cholesterol like bacon, potato chips, and fried foods, then they should be avoided.
In general, it’s strongly advised to avoid highly processed foods. Your body is designed to consume nutrients from whole foods, so ensure that the majority of your calories come from whole food sources, so a healthy-heart diet is in order to take care of your heart.
Also, starchy foods like white bread should be replaced with more quality carbohydrate sources like whole-grain alternatives. Oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, and barley are great examples of foods to use in your diet, helping you decrease your risk of heart disease development.
Sugar is one of the ingredients you need to keep an eye out for. Researches done by the American Heart Association and Harvard University have shown that a high blood sugar level based on refined sugars are one of the main factors for heart disease, and in excess can lead to an increased risk for heart disease development, and even heart failure.
Take Heart Health Supplements
There are plenty of supplements available that aid in proper heart function. For example, fish oil and flaxseed oil are excellent supplements to ensure you are getting your omega-3 fatty acids in, which your body needs but cannot produce itself.
Many supplements claim to offer heart benefits and decrease the risk of heart disease development, so doing your research before taking a new supplement is a good idea to avoid wasting your money or harming your health. However, many are considered safe and highly beneficial!
Remember, whole foods should always come first but using supplementation is a good way to fill certain gaps in your diet.
Protect Your Heart!
Your heart plays a central role in your overall health, so focusing on a healthier heart is a great way to start living the longest and healthiest life possible! Don’t forget to exercise, eat healthy foods, especially whole foods, keep an eye on your blood cholesterol level, watch your body mass and live a heart-healthy lifestyle, and you will avoid almost any chronic disease that might challenge your heart!
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