5 Things to Do Daily to Keep Your Heart Healthy
You know that exercise and a good diet can keep your heart healthy. But what else can you do to keep your heart going strong? Here are five key things to do every day to help your heart keep ticking:
1. Eat healthy fats.We need fats in our diet, including saturated and unsaturated fats. But one fat we don’t need is trans fat, which is known to increase the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke over a lifetime. Trans fat clogs your arteries. When you cut trans fats from your diet, you improve the blood flow throughout your body. So, what are trans fats? They are industry-produced fats often used in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine and fried fast foods to add flavor and texture.
TIP: Read the labels on all foods. Trans fat appears on the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated oils. Look for 0 percent trans fat.
2. Practice good dental hygiene, especially flossing your teeth daily. Dental health is a good indication of overall health, including heart health. This is because people who have gum disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. While studies are continuing on this issue, many have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the blood vessels. The inflammation may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
TIP: Floss and brush your teeth daily to ward off gum disease.
3. Get enough sleep. Sleep is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and bodily processes, including blood pressure and inflammation.
TIP: Make sleep a priority. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep most nights. If you have sleep apnea (when you stop breathing many times during the night), you should be treated for it since it’s linked to heart disease.
4. Don’t sit for too long at one time. In recent years, research has suggested that staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health no matter how much exercise you do. In addition, sitting for long periods of time (especially when traveling) increases your risk of a blood clot.
TIP: It’s important to get up and move. Try parking farther away in the parking lot or take a few short walks during the day, even if it’s just around your house.
5. Avoid secondhand smoke. Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. And nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. Chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries.
TIP: Try your best to avoid areas where people are smoking.
Incorporate these five habits into your lifestyle, and you’ll be doing your heart a favor. You’ll feel better and be able to stay active with a heart-healthy lifestyle.