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30 Heart Healthy Habits to Start Forming Now

Eat Healthy Fats

Saturated and trans fats are bad for your heart. It can lower your “good” cholesterol and raise your “bad” cholesterol. It can be hard to avoid these fats since they’re in most easy-to-grab foods out there—especially fast food. Instead, try to eat mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These can raise your “good” cholesterol and lower your “bad” cholesterol. 

Floss Daily

It’s easy to skip flossing, but your oral health and heart health are closely linked. Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Plus, there are tooth loss patterns that are connected to coronary artery disease.  Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and get regular dental checkups.

Don’t Sit for too Long at Once

Most of us spend several hours sitting down, but recent studies have shown that this is detrimental for your health. Try to move throughout the day, even if it’s just to take a short walk every couple of hours to significantly decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Quit Smoking

It’s not a surprise that smoking is harmful to you, but it could be worse than you think. Smokers have a 70% higher death rate from coronary artery disease when compared to non-smokers. Try to quit, and your heart will thank you. 

Avoid Second-Hand Smoke

Just because you don’t smoke, doesn’t mean you not at risk. Second-hand smoke is just as dangerous. Non-smokers who are regularly exposed to cigarette smoke have a 25-30% increased chance of developing heart disease. It also increases the risk of stroke by 20-30%.

Exercise Regularly

We’ve all heard it, but we have to repeat it. Even if you aren’t overweight, exercise is essential. Just 30 minutes of exercise can help your heart immensely. Remember the old saying, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it?” Exercising is like using your heart, so you don’t lose it later.

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Eat more fruits and vegetables! These healthy little plants contain so many nutrients that your body needs for essential functions. In general, leafy greens, berries, avocados, walnuts, and beans are all things you should increase in your diet.

Control Your Portion Size

Overeating is pretty dangerous. Some researchers found that heavy meals can trigger heart attacks. In addition to this, overeating can cause you to pack on pounds, lower your “good” cholesterol, and increase your blood pressure.

Be Aware When You Eat

Many people choose to eat dinner while watching TV or their smartphones. This is a pretty bad habit. Since you’re paying attention to what you’re watching, you don’t recognize when you’re full. In the end, this makes it extremely easy to overeat. Before you know it, your stomach will be bursting at the seams.

Select Whole Grains

Your body uses whole grains in a better way than processed grains. Grains like barley, quinoa, oats, and millet are high in fiber and low in fat. Whenever you buy baked goods, check the ingredients. If it doesn’t start with, “whole grain” or “whole wheat,” keep looking. 

Eat a Low-Fat Diet

Bad fats can seriously harm your health, and that’s why anyone with heart issues should eat a low-fat diet. This is a diet that’s low in saturated fats and trans fats. These two things can increase your cholesterol and make it harder for your body to pump blood through your arteries. 

Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Sodium is good in small amounts, but really bad when eaten in excess. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure, forcing your heart to work a lot harder. Make sure to consume less than 2,300mg per day. Frozen meals should be avoided altogether as they’re usually extremely high in sodium.

Check Your Blood Pressure Regularly

If you have high blood pressure, keep it in check by getting regular screenings. If you don’t have high blood pressure, learn the signals of hypertension. By catching it early and controlling it, you can significantly decrease your risk of having a heart attack. 

Lose Weight

Being 20% or more over weight increases your risk of heart disease, especially if you carry most of it around your middle. Even if you have no history of heart disease and no other health conditions, obesity will increase your risk. Lose any excess weight you have by getting a bit more exercise and eating better.

Understand Your Risk of Heart Issues

It isn’t all about what you eat. Some people are at a higher risk of developing heart disease. For example, African-Americans face higher risks for high blood pressure and diabetes, two things that set the person on a course for a heart attack.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is an essential part of staying healthy. If you don’t get enough, you could be putting yourself at a higher risk of heart disease. Sleeping too little (or too much) can be detrimental, so try to get seven to eight hours a night to be sure.

Try Yoga

Research shows that yoga can lower blood pressure and manage stress, both of which can benefit your heart. You don’t have to start intense. Begin yoga slow with beginner poses and work your way up to the harder stretches.

Decrease Your Stress

If you’re stressed, you probably have high blood pressure. This happens because your body releases adrenaline, which speeds up your heart and blood pressure. Do what you have to in order to destress. Listen to music, exercise, play games—whatever.

Go to the Doctor Regularly

No one wants to go to the doctor, but you gotta! Your doctor can catch precursors to heart disease and other risk factors that could creep up on you without knowing it. You may not be able to feel high cholesterol levels or high blood sugar, but your doctor can spot it out.

Check Your Blood Sugar

High blood sugar increases the likelihood of heart disease. If you know you have diabetes, be adamant in checking your blood sugar. Also, take the medication your doctors prescribe to ensure your levels don’t rise unexpectedly.

Don’t Brush Off Snoring

Snoring is more than a minor annoyance. It could be a signal that you have obstructive sleep apnea. This is a disorder that can cause blood pressure to skyrocket while you sleep. More than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, so if you aren’t sure, ask your doctor for a sleep study.

Consider Getting an Ankle-Brachial Index Test

An ankle-brachial index test is a quick, non-invasive way to check for peripheral artery disease. This test compares the blood pressure measured at your ankle to the levels taken at your arm. If you’re over 55, you should request this from your doctor. 

Spend Plenty of Time with Friends and Family

Spend time with your friends and family to reduce stress. Those who spend more time with their friends and family show remarkedly less stress. If they stress you out, don’t bother, but if you know you’re happier around these people, see them more!

Laugh More Often

Laughing decreases stress! Laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. When possible, consider going to a comedy show or listen to a comedy station on the radio when driving around. 

Take Supplements

There are plenty of supplements on the market that can increase your heart health. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one of the most popular. Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for your heart, but these can be naturally obtained by eating fish. Speak to your doctor before beginning a new medication.

Take Some Time to Relax

Nowadays, everyone is so busy, busy, busy! It can be hard to stop, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carve out time to do so. Take a moment out of your day to relax. It could be just sitting at the park or meditating for an hour.

Avoid Drinking Too Much Alcohol

If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. Try to keep your consumption down to one or two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One “drink” refers to a 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits. Sorry, wine drinkers—half the bottle isn’t one drink.

Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat is extremely high in saturated fat, which is harmful to your health. Aim to eat lean meats. If you do eat steak, go for pieces that have little-to-no marbling. Sirloin, top round, and eye of round are three of the best options. Above all, avoid ribeye steaks. They have the most saturated fat.

Don’t Skip Meals

Start eating breakfast! Studies have shown that adults who regularly skip breakfast are more likely to have clogged arteries. Try to eat a bowl of oatmeal or a couple of eggs before you start your day. Just try to avoid fatty bacon. 

Take Your Medication

If your doctor prescribes medication, take it. It can be easy to miss a dose or two, but this can be detrimental. Create a schedule that ensures you take your medication every morning, afternoon, and night (or whenever you take it). Even if you feel like you’re healthy enough to stop, speak to your doctor to make sure it’s a good idea.