4 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health
The heart is one of the most vital organs responsible for our survival. Our hearts are constantly working 24/7, beating approximately 2.5 billion times in an average lifetime. With that said, heart disease is also the number one cause of death, claiming about 1 million lives a year. Heart disease is often caused by buildup of plaque, calcium, cholesterol, and other substances inside the coronary arteries that are responsible for supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscles. Too much buildup restricts blood flow to the heart, which can result in a heart attack, stroke, or death. Knowing this, we must do what we can to ensure our hearts are functioning properly and optimally. Thankfully, there are some relatively simple lifestyle changes you can adopt to help you avoid or slow down, or drastically improve heart-related issues. Keep reading to learn more about how to work towards a healthier heart!
4 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health
1. Portion control
Eating too much can lead to eating more calories than you should. How much you eat is just crucial as what you eat. A lot of times, restaurant portions are much more than a normal serving. Use smaller plates and bowls and cook at home to have better control over your portions. Unfortunately, portion sizes have grown over the years, creating a dramatic distortion of what an actual healthy portion is. A healthy portion depends on your age, gender, weight, and how physically active you are. Eating larger portions often results in consuming more calories than your body requires, leading to weight gain and a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. However, you can still consume bigger portions of nutrient-rich low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables. Try to consume smaller portions of high-sodium, high-calorie products such as processed foods. This strategy can really improve your diet, heart, and waistline. You can also look into intermittent fasting as another way to help regulate your eating habits, while shedding away excess fat.
2. Opt for low-fat sources of protein
Consuming lean meat, poultry, eggs, and fish are great low-fat sources of protein to incorporate into your diet. Eating fish is an ideal alternative to high-fat meats since many types of fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, known to lower triglycerides (blood fats). For vegans, legumes, beans, and lentils are a good source of protein that has less fat and no cholesterol. Researchers discovered people who had high-protein diets had a higher risk of heart failure, especially when the protein sources were from dairy or animals (with the exception of eggs and fish). A lot of high-protein sources contain more saturated and trans fats which may lead to heart disease. Limiting or avoiding fatty, fried, marbled meats, bacon, hot dogs, and organ meats and opting for skinless poultry, lean ground meat, soybeans, fish, eggs, and low-fat dairy products can prove to be a better alternative for your heart health.
3. Reduce your sodium intake
Having too much sodium in your foods can contribute to high blood pressure and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends adults intake at most 2,300mg of sodium a day, or about a teaspoon, but ideally consume no more than 1,500mg of sodium a day. A lot of the salt is found in canned foods, fast food, restaurant meals, frozen dinners, and baked goods. Eating fresh whole foods and reducing the amount of salt you add in home-cooked meals is a great way to lower as well as control your salt intake. Unfortunately, a lot of the condiments we love are also high in sodium, such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and soy sauce. There are many condiments you can choose that have reduced-sodium versions instead. The best way to keep your sodium intake in check is to cook at home to be able to have full control of what goes into your meals and to be more heart-conscious.
Being physically active is also very important for a healthy heart. Exercise is profound for strengthening the heart muscle, regulating your weight, as well as help prevent artery damage from high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure which is known to cause heart attacks. Aerobic exercises are especially effective in improving heart health because these types of exercises improves circulation which in turn lowers your blood pressure, heart rate, regulates your blood glucose, and improves how well your heart pumps. Walking, running, swimming, jump-roping, cycling, and tennis are great examples of heart-pumping aerobic exercises you can participate in for at least 30 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week for optimal results. Strength training is another type of exercise that has great benefits for the heart. Resistance training helps burn fat while creating leaner muscle mass, assisting in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Working out with free weights, dumbbells, resistance bands, and weight machines 2-3 times a week are great ways to burn fat and build muscle. Combining aerobic exercise with strength training throughout the week can help maximize the benefits you can get from physical activity for your heart.
Related: Why You Need to Look Beyond your LDL
Are you being mindful of your heart health? If you haven’t, the time is now to take action to prioritize protecting our most precious vital organ to keep it in top-top shape, especially as we age. Our hearts work hard, without any breaks to keep us alive and we should do our part in choosing healthier lifestyle choices such as having better portion control, choosing low-protein sources, eating less sodium, and participating in aerobic and strength training exercises. Adjusting your lifestyle can prove to have a very positive impact on your heart, significantly lowering your risks of cardiovascular disease as well as improve your overall quality of life. At Ageless Forever, we strongly believe in educating our patients and providing the tools they need to improve their quality of life. We believe that aging is not a choice, but how you age is. Put your health first. You deserve it. Cheers, and good luck.