4 Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
February is Heart Disease Awareness Month, and your personal lifestyle is the best place to start applying this awareness. Whether you are recovering from a heart attack, are at risk for heart disease, or you are just reaching middle age and have not thought about heart health yet, this article is for you. Taking good care of your heart is important and relevant to you at any age and health condition. Here are four practical ways to take care of your heart well.
- Eat More Earlier. The American Heart Association recommends eating larger and earlier breakfasts and lunches (and smaller dinners) for a healthier heart and body! Consuming more of your daily calorie intake helps optimize your metabolism. This helps to lower high blood pressure, high cholesterol as well as weight management. This doesn't have to mean in large breakfasts and lunches - if it is more suited to your appetite and lifestyle, you could also break it down into smaller meals with snacks, while still following the principle of eating more earlier. You could simply make dinner your last meal so that all your snacks come before dinner.
- Keep Moving. The standing desk may have felt like a hot-topic phase, but the principle behind it is still relevant for heart health. Long periods of sitting have been proven to be linked with a significant increased risk of heart attack, as well as a 90% higher chance of these attacks being fatal. Consider your lifestyle habits and routine - if you spend long periods of time sitting while driving, working and once you get home, you can take steps to lower the sedentary quality of life. You could begin by using a standing desk for one hour a day, then adding one hour a week until you spend at least half your work day standing. While daily exercise is a huge help, it is best to be in the habit of moving throughout the day by just walking more. Develop the habit of getting up from your desk for quick walk once an hour, park further from the door, or use the bathroom upstairs to get that bit of movement in.
- Eat Good Fat, Cut Trans Fat. If you keep forgetting the difference between saturated, unsaturated and trans fats and which are healthy and unhealthy, you're not alone. Simply: saturated, poly-saturated and unsaturated fats are all necessary to our diet, but the one you can look out for is trans fat. Trans fat has been found to be connected with increased bad cholesterol levels and decreased good cholesterol level, which clogs your arteries and raises your chances of heart complications. Now, the practical way to remember what to eat and what to avoid. Good fats are often from dietary sources such as fish, avocado and nuts. Limit saturated (animal) fats, and avoid trans fat which is found in fried or fast food, margarine, and packaged snacks. In ingredients, partially hydrogenated oils mean trans fat, so avoid these items. You want to ensure you eat food with zero trans fat.
- Floss. When one healthy tip is linked to another one - double win! This may be an odd connection for you, but your dental health and heart health are related! If you needed another motivation to floss every day, here it is. Research suggests that the mouth bacteria that is a product of gum disease can lead to an increase in certain blood proteins that lead to inflamed blood vessels, stroke, and heart disease. Brushing and flossing every single day to maintain good dental hygiene and ward off gum disease can be one way to lower heart disease.
These are only 4 suggestions or reminders to you to take care of your heart's health this year. Of course, there are many other aspects that contribute to heart health, including exercise, diet, stress, obesity, sleep quality, other health conditions and taking effective and prescribed medication. The point is to always keep learning and to do what you can continuously towards strong health. When you're on top of the areas you're working on, focus on a new one, and always feel free to ask your doctor what health areas are priority for your specific case.