5 (Simple) Ways to Start Living Heart Healthy Today
Posted on Fri, Feb 7, 2014
It’s American Heart Month, and while it happens to coincide with Valentine’s Day, that’s not the reason American Heart Month exists. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, which means we should all be making heart health awareness a top priority—hence, the focus on heart health this month.
We’ve all heard the spiel in health class about the anatomy of the heart, and what cholesterol is, and how to determine our ideal heart rate. For most of us, that probably sounded something close to blah blah, blah blah blah. How about some facts that are easier to digest? We’ve collected some helpful tips you can start doing today for a healthier heart:
1. Cut out or cut back on butter—use coconut oil instead.
Simply put, butter has a lot of cholesterol, which coats your arteries and can cause heart attacks. Coconut oil is similar to butter, but it doesn’t have cholesterol. Plus, it’s very nutritional in that it strengthens your immune system, aids in digestion, regulates blood sugar, and helps with weight loss.
2. Get moving.
Your heart is a muscle, and just like all your other muscles, it needs to do work to stay strong or get stronger. When you run or walk briskly, your heart works harder to pump blood through your body, and so it gets stronger. This means your cholesterol is lowered, your blood pressure is reduced, and your body becomes better at using oxygen. Try to do at least 30 minutes of activity each day, even if it just means going for a walk.
3. Drink green tea.
Green tea is said to lower one’s risk of heart disease. This is because the tea has been shown to improve blood vessel function—specifically, the cells that can clog arteries when they’re not functioning right.
4. Boost your smoothie with avocado or almonds.
Both these foods are said to lower cholesterol, which helps keep your arteries clean. Since they are both fairly high in fat, the recommended portion size is a handful of almonds or half an avocado. You can also use half an avocado as a sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise, which is high in cholesterol.
5. Be positive and happy.
It’s really as simple as it sounds. When you’re stressed or depressed, you have higher blood pressure and cholesterol. When you’re happy and positive, your blood pressure and cholesterol are lower; plus, you tend to engage in healthier behaviors like exercise and better food choices. Tape encouraging notes on your bathroom mirror where you’ll always see them, or go see a funny movie with a friend—laughter really is its own kind of “medicine”!
These tips are intended as guidelines for heart-healthy living and are not intended to replace advice given by your doctor. If you are concerned about your heart health, consult your doctor to find the healthy living regimen that works best for you.