The foods you eat and the bad habits you avoid make a significant impact on your heart health. But are you doing enough to ensure the healthy beat goes on and on? Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States - but a majority of heart conditions can be avoided with the right lifestyle and mind set.
February is American Heart Month
It's the time when organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA)make a larger and more vocal effort to remind us that the center of our physical existence needs never-ending tender, loving care. Most of us do plenty of things every day to support heart heath, even if we don't realize it. Here are a few simple ways to stay on the path to cardiovascular health, and help prevent heart disease.
Tone down the triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your bloodstream, and levels that are too high can lead to heart disease or stroke. One way to tone down the triglycerides through dietary changes. Consuming more monosaturated fats and less saturated fats can happen by simply eating more fish and less red meat. Learn more about the role triglycerides play in heart heath in from The Mayo Clinic.
Move it: Whether you enjoy exercise or not, it's a must for cardiovascular health. AHA recommends 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate exercise weekly or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) of vigorous exercise each week. AHA also says that if you're trying to lower cholesterol or blood pressure and mitigate the risk of stroke or heart attack, 40 minutes of exercise three to four times a week is recommended. What counts as exercise? AHA says this on its website, "Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories." This "anything" could be walking, running, cycling, group classes, etc.
Eat to the Beat: Cardiovascular health is boosted by a diet that encompasses all of the food groups. AHA says this means a daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy is on the menu. As logic would dictate, largely avoid sodas, pre- packaged foods, and sugary foods. Use salt sparingly, and be sure fish is included in your diet. Consult the AHA website's "Nutrition Center" page for a detailed list of foods and recommended portions.
Nutritional supplements can also promote healthy heart function. Products such as Healthy Heart Formula contain vitamins E, B-6, B-12, folic acid, and garlic. Garlic has been proven to help reduce blood pressure and the hardening of the arteries. Read more about the health properties of garlic on WebMD.
If you or someone in your family is at risk for heart disease, be sure you're aware of the warning signs of distress.