At least 31 million Americans suffer from heart disease and about 650,000 of them die from it each year. In fact, despite extensive research, heart disease is still the number one killer of people around the world. But all is not dark with heart disease. The good news is that, unlike many other illnesses, this is one of the few disorders that can be prevented with lifestyle changes. But these lifestyle changes must be permanent to achieve heart health. Here are some tips on how to stay heart healthy.
1. Limit salt
People who consume too much salt usually have high blood pressure and this is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Current salt recommendations for adults are no more than 6 grams per day. Reduce the amount of salt in your food and read food labels to determine salt levels. Fast food and processed meat products are very high in salt. By cutting back on salt, not only can you lower your blood pressure, but you should also lower the dose of medication you need to lower your blood pressure. Always look for ways to stay heart healthy.
2. Eat less sugar
Sugar is fast becoming public enemy number one because it provides junk calories, which can quickly lead to obesity. Sugar is found everywhere and in most foods. Excess sugar consumption can lead to diabetes, vascular disease and heart disease. Also, sugar is a major cause of cavities and tooth decay. Reducing our sugar intake is essential. This can be done by reducing the consumption of soda and eating less sugary foods like pies, candies, chocolates, etc. Label reading is also important to help achieve heart health, as many foods are packed with sugar and you may want to try to avoid the majority of them.
3. Limit saturated fat
Saturated fat is commonly found in butter, pies, cakes, pastries, biscuits, margarine, dairy fat and almost all meats. The problem with saturated fats is that they promote atherosclerosis in blood vessels, which eventually leads to blockage. It is important to use only a minimal amount of saturated fat when cooking, or better yet, avoid it and use unsaturated fat. Read food labels and reduce meat products such as pork, chicken skin, red meat, bacon and ham. Choose low-fat dairy products and avoid pies, cakes and biscuits. Finally, limit intake of fried foods; Instead, grill or bake the food you eat at home.
4. Eat more plant-based foods
There is no longer any question about the benefits of a plant-based diet. Plant foods like fruits and vegetables provide many essential nutrients and minerals and are low in calories. Plus, vegetables are high in fiber, which can help regulate your bowel movements and even lower your blood sugar. All fruits and vegetables are considered heart-healthy, and you should eat at least 2-4 servings of plant-based foods each day. In general, people who eat a plant-based diet live longer, have a better quality of life, and are generally free of medical illnesses.
5. Eat more fish
Instead of red meat, eat more fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod and more. This fish contains unsaturated fatty acids that can lower your blood cholesterol. It is recommended to eat fish at least 2-3 times a week. If you’re a vegetarian and want to get the same benefits, you can get helpful omega-3 fatty acids by using walnuts, wheat germ, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and canola oil for cooking.
6. Ban on smoking
Smoking is a major risk factor for other health problems such as heart disease and cancer. People who smoke are several times more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers. Nicotine constricts blood vessels, which limits the amount of oxygen to the heart. This narrowing can increase the risk of high blood pressure and kidney failure and stroke. There is no magic bullet to stop smoking; Ironically, going cold turkey is often the most effective and cheapest way to stop this habit. At the same time, avoid inhaling secondhand smoke.
7. Reduce alcohol intake
In general, alcohol consumption is associated with many health problems, including high blood pressure, heart muscle damage, and the initiation of abnormal heart rhythms. Small amounts of alcohol are known to lower blood cholesterol somewhat, but because some people cannot control how much they drink, this can be more problematic. The benefit of drinking small amounts of alcohol can also be easily obtained from walking, which is not only safe but also free. If you choose to drink alcohol, men should drink no more than two glasses of wine per day and women should drink only one glass of wine per day.
8. Get physically active
Overall, people who are not physically active are more likely to develop various medical problems, including heart disease, than those who are active. Any form of physical activity is better than no activity at all. At a minimum, at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is recommended to reduce the risk of heart disease. Walking 45-60 minutes daily is good for beginners. The key is to be consistent. Exercise not only helps reduce waistline but can help lower blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
9. Reduce your body weight
Obesity is not a benign disease and is associated with numerous chronic health problems, including heart disease and premature death. Obesity can be reversed but requires constant effort and dedication. By losing body weight, you not only reduce the risk of heart disease, but also many types of cancer. Losing body weight means eating less, being physically active and/or having weight loss surgery.
10. Maintain good oral hygiene
Oral bacteria are known to infect heart valves in some people. So, always maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. By keeping cavities at bay, you also reduce your risk of heart disease.
11. Control your stress
A major risk factor for poor health and heart disease is uncontrolled stress. So, it is important to take steps to reduce the stress in your life. Don’t turn to alcohol to relieve stress, but practice yoga, meditation, tai chi, deep breathing exercises, or enroll in a stress relief class. In general, by reducing stress, not only will your heart health improve but your overall quality of life will improve.
12. Get enough sleep
It is now known that those with poor sleep habits have a higher risk of heart disease. Too little or inconsistent sleep disrupts the body’s hormonal balance, which subsequently wreaks havoc on the rest of the body. Practice getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Keep your bedroom free of potential distractions, such as watching television or working on the computer. Go to bed on time and get up at the same time in the morning. A good night’s sleep relieves stress, makes you feel refreshed and can rejuvenate you for the day ahead.