Each of us must take a look at how we live, eat and go about our daily lives. Too much of junk food, alcohol, smoking and sedentary lifestyle can put a lot of stress on our hearts. Over time, this stress could even cause permanent damage to this vital organ. Having a healthy heart is essential to living a long, healthy and happy life. Here are some ways to keep your heart healthy and strong.
1. Quit smoking
Nicotine puts a lot of pressure on this delicate organ. Read this article-what effect does smoking have on the heart? – it can raise your awareness about the dangers of smoking. Simply put, smoking raises blood pressure and causes shortness of breath. People who smoke a lot often find it hard to kick this habit. But taking this important step is necessary to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Here are some easy ways to quit smoking.
2. Limit alcohol intake
Like nicotine, alcohol also damages the heart muscle. A glass of red wine a day is good for you but if you are in the habit of having 3 or more drinks every day, then you might be seriously damaging your heart. So, an easy way to keep the heart healthy is to quit drinking or at least limit the amount you drink. A thumb rule to remember: there should be at least 2 days each week when you do not drink.
3. Eat foods that are heart healthy
This is the easiest way to keep your heart healthy. Eat fiber rich food, fruits and vegetables, heart healthy cereals, and good fats that are abundant in salmon, avocado, walnuts and seeds etc. Peas, beans, garlic, fish, whole grains, olives and olive oil etc are some of the best foods for a healthy heart. The Mediterranean Diet is considered as the world’s best diet for keeping the heart healthy and strong naturally. It focuses mainly on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and very limited intake of sugar and refined foods. Mediteranean meals are made in olive oil.
4. Avoid foods that are bad for the heart
Greasy fatty foods or deep fried foods, artificial sweeteners, packaged foods, red meat, sugary foods, colas and carbonated drinks, and sweets and chocolates are generally bad for the heart. Limit the intake of such foods.
5. Limit salt intake
Too much of salt is bad for the heart. Cook your meals in little or no salt and avoid keeping table salt so that you do not feel tempted to salt your meals. The same is the case with sugar- stop taking sugar in tea and coffee as far as possible.
6. Limit portion sizes
Most Americans are obese because of their huge portion sizes. Almost every American celebration is about food and it usually includes unhealthy stuff like cakes, cookies, and other junk. To limit portion sizes, you can remember the following diagram. It shows how much of each food group you must eat to have a healthy heart.
7. Do not let your emotions get the better of you
Emotions make us human but they also lead us to binge eating, or eating less of the right foods and so on. Extreme sadness or extreme joy can both be detrimental for our wellbeing when we associate them with food. So center yourself no matter what you may be feeling at a particular instant.
8. Lose weight
Obese and overweight people are at a greater risk for heart trouble. So know how much you should ideally weigh for your height, lifestyle and activity levels. Remember: being underweight is also bad for the heart. It indicates that you are not eating enough of the right foods. If you are unsure, talk to your doctor about how much you should ideally weigh. Measure your weight and blood pressure from time to time to know if your heart is okay.
9. Exercise regularly
Exercise is very important for a healthy heart and body. You can take up any activity you like such as dancing, swimming, cycling etc. Aim to get in at least 40 minutes to an hour of exercise each day. There are a lot of fun ways to exercise- you can brisk walk for half an hour, or even do some weight or resistance training while watching TV. Skipping, stretching and using dumbbells are some easy exercises you can do at home. Housework, gardening, heavy duty cleaning etc are also great ways to burn calories. These are simple yet healthy heart exercises.
10. Prevent stress
Stress is the number one factor behind heart disease. Manage stress by taking some time out for yourself daily. You can do some deep breathing exercises, meditate, indulge in hobbies or just listen to some relaxing music. Simple things like taking a bath, going away on a mini vacation or spending time with kids and pets are some other fantastic ways to beat stress.
The very fact that you are searching for ways to improve heart health naturally is the first step you have taken towards improving overall health and well being. We hope the above 10 ways help keep your heart healthy and strong naturally.