February is National Heart Month, what are you doing to keep your heart healthy this month? There’s a lot you can do to keep it healthy, as you should, because every 1 in 4 deaths in America is caused by heart disease.
If that’s not enough to influence healthier decisions, your life insurance premiums may increase due to serious conditions like heart disease.
Heart health can be influenced by genetics, but the biggest factor is your lifestyle. So, here are some heart healthy tips to keep it strong and pumping for years to come:
The American Heart Association recommends that average adults should engage in different physical activities every week for a healthy heart.
So, whether you take a small walk on your lunch break, hit the gym after work, or follow workout videos from the comfort of your own home – it all makes a difference. An active heart, is a healthy heart, and learning to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle is the best thing you can do for it.
Learn to destress.
Stressful events do happen, and learning to cope with them through healthy practices such as yoga, meditation, or timed breathing can help you calm down and lower your blood pressure. Additionally, using something like a planner or journal can help you organize multiple tasks you may feel overwhelmed by. Don’t let stress take a toll on your heart.
Get regular sleep.
Not only can lack of or irregular sleep put a big strain on your heart, but your entire body as well. An average adult needs to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Limit your tech time at night, and use something like a white noise machine which can help muffle environmental noises and prevent nighttime distractions.
If you still find yourself having trouble getting a full night’s rest, schedule an appointment with your doctor- you may have a serious condition like insomnia or sleep apnea.
Learn to control what you eat.
Portion sizes in America have increased dramatically over the years, and so haven’t our waist sizes.
Unfortunately, being overweight or obese puts terrible stress on your heart because it has to work harder to pump and circulate blood. Therefore, it’s important to take control of your diet.
First of all, make sure you understand the differences between a serving size and a portion size. Many of us may not be aware of the suggested serving sizes for most foods and often eat multiple servings in one single meal.
However, something like portion controlled plates or containers can help you control what you eat and keep your heart in tip top shape.
Quit bad habits.
Habits like smoking may be hard to break, but once you quit your heart will thank you. In fact, when you stay cigarette free for one year, your risk of heart disease drops significantly.
Watch your sodium intake.
Sodium is an essential mineral that we do need in our bodies. However, too much of it can cause adverse health effects like high blood pressure and contribute to heart disease. In fact, an average adult should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
High amounts of salt are typically found in foods like pizza, breads, deli meats, cured meats, sandwiches, chicken, and soup. Additionally, the worst culprits of high sodium include food from restaurants and highly processed items like potato chips, chicken nuggets, and sliced cheese.
To avoid high amounts of sodium stick to cooking meals from scratch at home and consider using a sodium tracker to track your daily intake. It may be surprising to discover how much sodium you actually consume every day.
Eat healthy fats.
When people hear the word fat, they may assume it’s automatically bad for you- but not all fats are bad. Foods high and mono and polyunsaturated fats are great for heart health. Avocado, fatty fish, and nuts naturally contain these fats, and help to lower levels of bad cholesterol in your body.
On the other hand, saturated fats that are naturally found in products such as, cream, butter, cheese, and fatty beef don’t have to be completely avoided, but they should be limited in your diet.
Additionally, artificial trans fat, hydrogenated oils, and tropical oils are some of the worst fats for heart health because they increase your risk of heart disease and raise bad cholesterol. Foods with these fats include cookies, donuts, fried foods, coffee creamers, coconut oil, processed snacks, and margarine.
The most important thing you can do to stay heart healthy in your diet is to read the labels on food products. Before you buy from the grocery store, educate yourself and check the contents. A healthy diet in addition to regular exercise can help you fight and prevent heart disease. Did we leave out any heart healthy tips? Share them in the comments below.