Give Your Heart Some TLC
Your heart is one of the most vital organs in your body. It works for you non-stop, every day of your life, even when you are sleeping; show it a little TLC! Taking simple steps to improve your heart health every day can make help you avoid heart disease and reduce your risk of heart attack.
Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine advises “taking care of your heart is like finding a fountain of youth.” Follow these 5 steps (even one or two of them) to live a more healthful life.
Aim for lucky number 7. A good night’s sleep is very beneficial to heart health. In one study, young to middle-age adults who slept 7 hours each night had less calcium in their arteries, reducing their chances of developing heart disease. Consult a physician about your sleeping habits if you have trouble falling and staying asleep.
Keep the pressure off. If your blood pressure gets too high, the extra force can damage artery walls and create scar tissue. This makes it more difficult for blood and oxygen to move around your body and your heart has to work harder. Keep track of your blood pressure and seek medical treatment if it is consistently high.
Avoid saturated fats. Some fats are great for you and others are harmful. Too much “bad” cholesterol can clog the heart and arteries with dangerous plaque. These kinds of fats are likely found in red meats and fried or processed foods. Adults should also get a cholesterol blood test every 5 years so a doctor can monitor your chance for heart disease.
Sweat more. It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. This means moving enough to break a sweat. Also, pay attention to how much time you spend seated at work, in the car, and at home. Being sedentary is very harmful for your heart so be sure to break up long stretches of sitting with standing or walking around.
Have more fruit and less juice. Your heart works best when it runs on clean nutrients. That means lots of whole, plant based foods (fruits, veggies, and nuts) and fewer refined and processed foods (bread, pasta, crackers). One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary beverages which lack fiber that is in actual fruit. Lots of people have trouble with drinking far too many calories rather than eating them and getting the full nutritional benefit.