Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing one person to die every 37 seconds.
If you don’t take the time now to keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy, you may cause irreversible damage. Instead of wishing you would have changed your ways sooner, get started today. You won’t regret making the change to a healthier lifestyle!
Read on to learn some simple changes you can make to protect your heart!
1. Eat Healthy Fats
Many people indulge in a diet full of saturated fats. All those fatty cuts of meat, dairy products, and fried foods should be kept to a minimum for a healthy heart.
But, that doesn’t mean you need to give up fats completely. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends unsaturated fats for a heart-healthy diet.
A few examples of good fats to add to your diet include:
- Fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids
- Healthy oils such as olive, sunflower, and corn oils
- Nuts including almonds, walnuts, and peanuts
To really help your diet, try to also seek out foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
2. Watch Your Salt Levels
Another way how to take care of your heart is to watch your salt intake.
Eating too much salt, also known as sodium, over time can lead to a risk of high blood pressure. In addition, a high sodium diet can increase your risk of heart failure, heart attack, and even a stroke. By keeping an eye on your daily salt intake, you can greatly improve your overall heart health.
The heart foundation recommends eating less than 5 grams of salt or 2000 mg of sodium per day. When shopping, opt for products that are advertised with no, low, or reduced salt levels.
3. Avoid First and Second-Hand Smoke
The chemicals found in tobacco smoke actively damage your heart. Over time, plaque builds up in your arteries, which leads to heart disease. If the build-up continues, smoking can lead to a heart attack, heart failure, and even death.
If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do for your heart health is to quit. While quitting isn’t easy, the heart health benefits are worth it.
Sadly, the damage can also come from second-hand smoke. If you frequently find yourself in situations where others are smoking around you, make an effort to avoid these situations. If you have loved ones who smoke, encourage them to smoke away from you by explaining your heart health concerns.
4. Add Physical Activity to Your Schedule
Wondering what protects the heart? Physical activity is one of the most impactful habits you can do to improve your heart health.
Healthy adults are encouraged to engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Thinking of this requirement as 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help make the goal seem more achievable.
Some easy heart-healthy activities include:
- Walking or jogging
- Joining a guided workout class
- Practicing yoga
- Swimming laps
- A bike ride
While exercising, be sure to monitor your heart rate and watch out for things like shortness of breath and tiredness. These could be symptoms of atrial fibrillation, which means you should take a break and seek medical attention if the symptoms continue.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
While social drinking doesn’t have any proven effects on heart health, excessive drinking can be detrimental. Experts say that excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, a stroke, or heart failure.
But what counts as excessive drinking? Excessive drinking is the term used when men consume five or more drinks on one occasion and when women consume four or more.
Excessive drinking is different than alcoholism. You can drink excessively on occasion without having an addiction.
People commonly think that their drinking is considered moderate because they aren’t an alcoholic. But, even the occasional experience of excessive drinking can have negative effects on your heart health.
6. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis are at risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
Adults should consistently get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you don’t get that much sleep, evaluate what’s preventing this.
Are you overcommitting yourself and don’t have the time to sleep? Are you unable to fall asleep or remain asleep? Do you stay up at night watching television or looking at your phone instead of sleeping?
Sleep is important for a variety of aspects in your life, so it’s time to start prioritizing it.
7. Manage Your Stress Levels
If you find yourself still asking, “Is my heart healthy?”, you may want to take a look at your mental health. High levels of stress can have a negative impact on your heart health.
If you find that your daily life is rather stressful, take steps to fix this. The first thing to do is evaluate your life and identify if there’s something specific causing you stress. If at all possible, you need to remove yourself from these stressful obligations or relationships.
If you can’t identify what is actually causing your stress, then try to practice self-care to prevent further stress. Add meditation or mindful stretching to your daily routine. Or consider journaling your daily thoughts as a way to escape from your stressors.
Keep in mind that many of the above tips, like physical activity and proper sleep, will also help your stress levels.
Protect Your Heart Using These Simple Tips
Using these simple tips, you can protect your heart and live a healthy life.
Keep in mind that heart health doesn’t happen overnight. Choosing one of these tips and doing it once won’t help much. Instead, pick a few of these tips and make them a habit in your daily life, adding more in as the old tips become second-nature.
Looking for more ways to promote a healthy lifestyle in 2020? Visit the Health Programs section of this site for all the knowledge you need to be your best, healthy self.