Did you know that your heart beats around 100,000 times a day and pumps 2,000 gallons of blood throughout the body?
In celebration of heart health month what better time to discuss keeping your heart healthy! Your heart is the powerhouse of your body’s intricate system. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is your body’s best defense against cardiovascular disease that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Now for the million dollar question…How well do you take care of your heart?
Let’s ponder on that question for a moment. Did you realize that you may not be taking the best care of your heart? You are not alone! Most people think that heart health is difficult and challenging, however, it is never too late to start taking better care of your heart. Check out these 7 simple steps defined by the American Heart Association to help you become heart healthy:
- Manage your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. When your blood pressure stays within a healthy range, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keep you healthier longer.
- Control your cholesterol: High cholesterol leads to plaque which can clog your arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. Controlling your cholesterol helps your arteries to remain clear of blockages allowing your blood to flow freely.
- Reduce your blood sugar: Having high blood sugar can lead to diabetes. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.
- Get Active: There are many reasons that people may not be active, however, daily activity increases your length and quality of life. Adults should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Remember: a little exercise is better than no exercise!
- Eat Healthy: When you eat a heart healthy diet you improve your chances of feeling good and staying healthy. It may be tempting to eat out with friends or grab fast food on the way home, but your heart is not forgiving to unhealthy food choices. Rule of thumb: Enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain, beans and legumes, skinless poultry and fish. Limit sweet drinks, sodium, processed grain foods, full fat diary products, eggs. Avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils.
- Maintain a healthy weight: When you maintain a healthy weight, you reduce the burden on your heart. Reduce calories you intake by keeping track of what and how much you are eating and increase calories you burn by physical activity. In addition, knowing your BMI can help you to recognize if you are at a healthy weight.
- Quit Smoking (if you do): Tobacco use increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Cigarette smoking is responsible for 1/3 of the deaths related to heart disease. Smoking cessation is the best thing you can do for your overall health. This list in not all-inclusive. There are other factors that affect your heart besides what is listed by the American Heart Association such as long term stress and alcohol abuse. Now that you are aware of these 7 tips to become heart healthy, commit to making the necessary changes to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease!