About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States each year.
That’s about one in every four deaths in our country.
Instead of living at risk of heart disease, more people are making changes to improve their heart health. A few lifestyle changes could make the difference between a healthy heart and an early funeral.
Interested in learning how to protect your heart?
Keep reading for seven life-extending tips you need to keep your heart healthy. By making a few simple changes, you can live longer, healthier, and happier starting today.
1. Change Your Diet
The first step to protecting your heart is to change up your diet. Dig through your cabinet and fridge to toss anything that’s wrapped in plastic. Instead of chips and ultra-processed foods, start eating from nature.
Ultra-processed foods lose their nutritional value. They’re higher in energy density than natural foods as well, which could impact your weight.
Instead, start using fresh, whole ingredients in your cooking. This includes vegetables, fish, whole grains, and lean meats. You’ll also want to add fruits, nuts, and healthy oils to your diet, but keep these in moderation.
Eating whole foods will keep you full throughout the day. It will also keep excessive calories at bay while maximizing your nutritional intake. These foods are healthier for your heart and your body, so you’ll have the energy you need to get through the day.
2. Get Active
Once you improve your diet, step outside! Get your heart pumping with 30 minutes of moderate physical activity. Half an hour of exercise a day will lower your risk of physiological diseases like heart disease.
Exercise can also lower the risk of cancer, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, which inhibits a cell’s ability to use energy, is a normal part of aging. However, you can prevent mitochondrial dysfunction and double the mitochondria in your skeletal muscle through exercise. This, in turn, will improve cell function throughout the body and produce an anti-aging effect.
If you want to live longer and maintain a healthy heart, get active!
3. Manage Your Stress
The stress hormone cortisol can harm your heart. To reduce cortisol levels throughout your body, try:
- Getting more sleep each night
- Spending more time with family and friends
Social interactions will make you feel great in the moment and produce long-term health benefits. You can also avoid the negative mental and physical effects of loneliness.
By reducing your cortisol levels, you’re also:
- Reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke
- Decreasing systemic inflammation throughout the body
- Strengthening your immunity
- Slowing cognitive decline
Spend some quality time with family, relax, and start managing your stress.
4. Get Omega-3s
Anti-inflammatory oils are important for protecting your heart. To extend your heart health, start adding omega-3s to your diet. You can find omega-3 fatty acids as a supplement.
They’re also found in fatty fish like trout and salmon.
The health benefits of omega-3s include:
- They fight off depression, anxiety, and lethargy
- Their ability to improve your eye health
- They prevent macular degeneration (which leads to blindness and vision impairment)
- Taking omega-3s during pregnancy can benefit the child (producing better social skills and fewer behavioral issues)
- They improve risk factors for heart disease by reducing triglycerides and blood pressure levels
- Omega-3s reduce inflammation
- Plaque prevention
- They keep blood platelets from clumping, preventing blood clots
- Omega-3s increase “good” cholesterol levels
- They can reduce ADHD symptoms in children (hyperactivity, impulsiveness, aggression)
- Omega-3s reduce metabolic syndrome symptoms (which can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes)
- They fight autoimmune diseases, mental disorders, cancer, and mental decline associated with Alzheimer’s
That’s just the shortlist of all omega-3s can do to improve your overall health!
Try to add three 3-ounce servings of fish to your diet each week. Otherwise, make sure you’re receiving 900 mg of omega-3s a day.
5. Keep Cholesterol Low
Of course, you’ll want to keep your cholesterol low to protect your heart.
First, make sure you know your LDL cholesterol levels.
Unhealthy habits, like smoking or eating a diet high in fat, damage the interior lining of your arterial walls over time. This can cause your body to send LDL cholesterol to try and repair the damage. However, this causes plaque to build up, which clogs your blood vessel.
To avoid your LDL cholesterol from building up, change your diet. Try to exercise and meditate daily to keep your stress levels low. Try to maintain an LDL cholesterol number that’s under 70.
6. Hit the Sauna
Spending time in a sauna can also help protect your heart. According to this study, participants who frequented sauna baths experienced:
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease events (heart attack and stroke)
- Improved immunity
- Lower mortality
Soaking in a sauna can also help you relax, which will, in turn, lower your cortisol levels. It can also reduce any inflammation and chronic pain you’re feeling, including arthritis symptoms. Try to frequent a sauna for 20 minutes a day, four times a week.
Hitting the sauna will normalize your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy.
7. Avoid Alcohol & Tobacco
According to the American Heart Association, tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death. In 2016, it accounted for 7.1 million deaths worldwide.
Smoking can cause numerous types of cancer, dementia, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Drinking, on the other hand, can cause throat cancer, liver cirrhosis, and cardiovascular disease. It also impairs sleep, which can increase your cortisol levels.
To protect your heart, avoid drinking and smoking. These unhealthy habits could hurt your heart and reduce the effectiveness of the six tips above.
Heart to Heart: 7 Life-Extending Tips for Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Now that we’ve had this heart to heart, it’s time to make a change. With these tips, you can keep your heart happy and healthy for years to come. Get started today!
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