7 Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Cardiovascular diseases — one of the leading causes of death in the world. However, you can significantly reduce your risk by changing your lifestyle.
Movement is necessary for the heart: it strengthens the cardiorespiratory system, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and improves insulin sensitivity. And most importantly, it benefits, no matter how little you do. Moving at least a little better than not moving at all.
You can break the time of aerobic training in a way that suits you best, for example, five days a week for 30 minutes or three times for 50 minutes. These include running, swimming, brisk walking, biking, basketball, tennis, and even gardening.
During strength training, you need to work out the main muscle groups (legs, back, shoulders, arms). To do this, you can do kettlebells, a barbell or an elastic band, do exercises with your own weight (squats and push-ups, yoga). Intense housework is also suitable.
Do not worry if you do not fit exactly into the recommended framework. Any physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you have little free time, pay attention to intensive interval training.
2. Watch your blood pressure
Increased pressure (hypertension) leads to mechanical stress on the walls of the arteries, which is why they narrow and harden. And this increases the risk of blood plaques and cracks in the vessels, which can lead to a stroke. The ideal pressure is 120/80. The upper value reflects systolic pressure — the pressure at the time of heartbeat. Lower diastolic pressure — resting pressure.
If the pressure exceeds 120/80, you may have prehypertension. And if it is higher than 140/90, you have full hypertension. Pressure changes throughout the day rise and fall depending on food intake and alcohol, in response to caffeine and stress. To understand what your usual pressure is, measure it several times a day.
To relieve pressure, try:
- Lose weight. When overweight, the heart needs to work harder to drive blood through the body.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. Men should take no more than two, and women should take no more than one serving per day.
- Eat less salt. The amount of salt per day should not exceed five grams. Most people consume twice as much.
3. Watch your cholesterol
Check your cholesterol level every 4–6 years. Doing so, pay attention to:
- HDL cholesterol. It is considered useful for the cardiovascular system, its level of content should be high.
- LDL cholesterol. It is harmful to health, the level of maintenance should be low.
- Triglycerides. This is the type of fat that is in the blood. Elevated triglycerides associated with heart disease and diabetes.
A proper diet can bring cholesterol back to normal. Fatty fish, apples, strawberries, citrus fruits, legumes, vegetables, and flax seeds reduce LDL. Nuts increase HDL. And with elevated triglycerides, it is best to reduce the intake of empty carbohydrates. Try to exclude sugar, bread, pasta, fruit juices, and other processed carbohydrates from your diet.
4. Monitor your blood sugar
If you have a high blood sugar level, be sure to consult your doctor to determine if you have diabetes. Please note that some factors can increase sugar levels and affect the result of the analysis. This lack of sleep, obesity, the use of alcohol and caffeine, taking contraceptives, antidepressants, colds, hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, chronic stress.
Do not forget that sugar can only be measured after you have not eaten for eight hours.
5. Eat right
All products can be divided into three categories: healthy for the heart, harmful and neutral.What is good
- Plant foods: nuts, seeds, legumes, grains.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Seafood, especially oily fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel.
- Fermented foods (yogurt, kefir).
- Healthy Fats (Olive Oil).
- Products with sugar (carbonated drinks, juices, sweets).
- Processed carbohydrates (breakfast cereals, white bread, cookies, pasta).
- Meat products (sausage, sausages, ham, hamburgers).
- Finished products, in which there is a lot of salt, sugar, fats, preservatives (frozen dishes, chips, nuggets, canned soups, instant noodles).
- Red meat.
A Mediterranean diet is also good for the heart. It is based on olive oil, nuts, seafood, fruits, poultry, legumes, and vegetables. According to researchers, those on this diet were much less likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease than people who followed a low-fat diet.
6. Track your weight.
Fat cells produce substances that increase inflammation, impair insulin sensitivity and lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Therefore it is not surprising that obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease. People who have a lot of visceral fat are especially at risk. It accumulates in the abdomen around the internal organs. Such fat is much more dangerous than subcutaneous fat and it is more difficult to get rid of it.
The amount of visceral fat can be determined using the body mass index. It is calculated by the ratio of height and weight. A BMI of less than 25 is considered optimal; a higher rate already indicates obesity.
But you still can not fully rely on BMI. For people with a lot of muscle mass, the indicator can be more than 25, despite the low percentage of fat mass. Conversely, you can be very thin, but have a high percentage of visceral fat.
7. Stop smoking
Smoking causes emphysema (excessive air accumulation in organs), cancer, periodontitis, and harms almost every organ. It is especially dangerous for the heart because tobacco smoke damages blood vessels. Smokers double the risk of a heart attack and stroke risk — three times. Electronic cigarettes also increase the risk of heart disease.