By Taylor McKnight
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths, and In Canada, it’s the second leading cause of death after cancer. A healthy heart is important for everyone. It ensures that the heart can effectively pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. Unhealthy heart habits can lead to heart disease, which affects the heart’s ability to function well. There are many things we can do to help keep our hearts healthy.
Importance of Heart Health
1) Maintains Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels lead to plaque build-up in the arteries, restricting blood flow and increasing your risk for heart attack or stroke. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as it moves through them. When blood pressure is too high, it can damage your heart and other organs.
2) Reduces Depression
Cardiovascular disease can cause feelings of depression and anxiety. People with heart disease are also at an increased risk for suicide. Regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and managing stress can help reduce the risk of developing depression.
3) Reduces the Risk of Dementia
Poor heart health leads to a decline in mental function, known as dementia. Dementia affects a person’s ability to think, remember things, and make decisions. People with heart disease are two times more likely to develop dementia than people without heart disease.
4) Prevents Diabetes
Heart disease and diabetes are often linked. When the heart is unable to pump blood effectively, it can cause damage to the cells in the pancreas. This increases the risk of developing type II diabetes.
Healthy Heart Nutritional Tips
1) Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can protect your heart health. Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
2) Reduce Salt and saturated Fats
Saturated fats are found in red meat, dairy products, and processed foods. They can increase your risk for heart disease. Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet can help improve your heart health. Salt is also known to contribute to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease. Try to limit the amount of salt you eat to no more than 2300 mg per day.
3) Incorporate Fiber in Your Diet
Fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels. It can also help control blood sugar levels and promote a healthy weight. Try to eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
4) Stop Smoking
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. It increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. If you smoke, quitting is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
5) Include Diet with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that can protect your heart. They help to lower harmful cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
6) Have Daily Menus
It’s easier to make healthy choices when you plan your meals ahead of time. Menus can help you stay on track with your diet and ensure that you get the proper nutrients. Include healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
7) Include Whole Grains in the Diet
Whole grains are a good source of fiber and other nutrients that protect your heart health. Try to include at least three servings of whole grains per day. Good sources of whole grains include barley, quinoa, oats, and brown rice.
8) Check Your Weight
Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for heart disease. They can also lead to other health problems like type II diabetes and high blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your heart health. Try to lose weight gradually through diet and exercise. Losing just five percent of your body weight can help improve your heart health.
“For optimal heart health you’ll want to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, get a good balance of healthy fats (especially Omega-3 and Omega-6), consume supplements, if necessary, control salt/sugar intake and drink plenty of water daily. Make sure you have regular checkups with your doctor, breathe deeply when possible and try your best to control bad stress.” – Dwight A., canfitpro PTS
Types of Exercises to Improve Heart Health
1) Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is a type of cardiovascular exercise. It helps to improve your heart health by increasing your heart rate and breathing. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, biking, and swimming. The exercise should be moderate to vigorous in intensity.
2) Resistance Training
Resistance training is a type of strength-training exercise. It helps to improve your heart health by increasing muscle mass and improving the function of your heart. Resistance training can be done with weights, bands, or machines.
3) Flexibility Training
Flexibility training is a type of stretching exercise. It helps to improve your heart health by increasing your range of motion and reducing muscle tension. Flexibility exercises can be done with static stretches or dynamic stretches.
Other Things that Benefit the Heart
In addition to diet and exercise, there are other things you can do to improve your heart health. These include:
- Reducing stress levels
- Getting adequate sleep
- Using alcohol in moderation
- Laughing out loud
- Ensure you take breakfast
- Eat chocolates
Maintaining a healthy heart is important for your overall health. There are many things you can do to improve your heart health, including eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress levels. It’s important to make healthy choices every day to protect your heart and keep you feeling your best.