Heart health is so important for women. Learning how to properly care for your heart by making excellent choices in food and exercise will greatly diminish your chances of heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for American women, and stroke is number three. By eating a heart-healthy diet, along with regular exercise and physical activity, you are able to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
I have firsthand knowledge of what poor eating habits can lead to as I lost my father to a massive heart attack when he was 52. Just a few months ago my husband suffered a massive heart attack, also at age 52.
We were extremely fortunate that my husband knew something was wrong and was able to get to an ER in time to be saved. Now, we are much more aware of heart health and have made many changes to our lifestyle and eating habits.
A healthy heart really is essential if you want to live a long and happy life. While heart disease cannot always be prevented, making sure you take good care of your heart can significantly lower your chances of developing it.
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Ways to Boost Your Heart Health
Even if you are genetically more likely to develop heart disease, there are still ways to reduce the risks. For overall better heart health, you need to adapt and commit to a healthier lifestyle.
Regular exercise will help keep your heart healthy. It is recommended to get at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week for maximum heart benefits. This will also help to manage your weight, helping to combat obesity which puts a strain on your heart.
To help you get on track with regular physical activity, check out:
If you are a smoker, you don’t need me to tell you to quit, I’m sure you have heard it before. But, did you know it’s actually one of the most common causes of coronary heart disease?
I quit, and so can you. It was not easy. It was not fun. However, I made it through and you will, too. I used a nicotine patch system along with some willpower. Be sure to speak to your doctor to see how they can help.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for the health of your heart. You should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Regularly getting less than six hours of sleep puts you at a higher risk of heart or stroke.
For more information, read my article on improving midlife sleep.
Proper Dental Care
Taking care of your teeth and gums diminishes the chance of heart disease. Studies have shown that those with gum disease tend to have the same risk factors as heart disease.
It’s thought the bacteria present in the mouth can get into the bloodstream, causing inflammation within the blood vessels. So, always try to floss and brush your teeth twice a day.
Creating A Heart Healthy Diet
While you work to boost your heart health, the biggest factor to focus on is making sure you are eating a heart-healthy diet. The following are some recommended foods for your heart.
Whole grains are a superfood for the heart. They contain phytosterols, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens, which help to prevent coronary heart disease. They also contain a high level of fiber. Studies show those who consumed a high fiber diet had a staggering 40% reduced risk of developing heart disease. Wow!
Yogurt has been linked to good blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Probiotic yogurt can reduce the risk of heart disease by protecting the heart indirectly. It works by reducing the risk of gum disease, improves digestion, and gives the immune system a boost. By keeping your pearly whites clean and healthy, you will be actually helping your heart.
Oily fish such as salmon is great for the heart. It’s said that just two portions a week can cut the risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 30%! It also helps to lower blood pressure and it’s even linked to the prevention of irregular heart rhythms.
Salmon helps bring down triglyceride levels within the blood which are known to lead to blood clotting. Another great way to lower the triglyceride levels, especially if you aren’t getting enough salmon in your diet, is by regularly taking an Omega-3 fish oil supplement.
Berries aren’t just delicious, they’re also great for the heart. They are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, as they’re low in calories but high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Berries are proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol while reducing oxidative stress.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be happy to learn that dark chocolate helps boost cardiovascular health. If you want to gain the benefits of dark chocolate, you’ll need to choose one which is at least 70% cocoa. The higher the cocoa content, the more beneficial it’s going to be for the heart.
For more details, check out The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.
Snacks provide us with the energy we need in-between meals and help keep our hunger at bay. Making good choices on what to snack on is vital to your heart health. Poor food choices would include drinks that are high in sugar, sweets, chips, and even granola bars. While we may think of them as healthy, often they are loaded with processed sugars.
Some great snack choices include:
Fruits – Aside from berries, apples and pears can reduce the risk of illness and disease and even help prevent cancer. An apple, for example, can give you whiter teeth by limiting the bacteria in the mouth. Red grapes are known to protect the heart and aid in weight loss, so be sure to add plenty to your diet. They will also fill the void when you crave something sweet.
Raw Vegetables – Get crunching on sliced bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrot and celery sticks, and sliced zucchini and cucumbers. These raw veggies are healthy and nutritious, and so much better for you than prepackaged snacks.
Popcorn – Now I’m not recommending the kind of popcorn you get at the movies that is dripping in butter, or even the traditional kind you pop with oil. I suggest using a hot air popper. This will produce a low-calorie and low-fat treat.
Dried Fruits – Dried fruits contain more fiber and more of the antioxidants called phenols than fresh fruit. Fiber fights heart disease, obesity, and some types of cancer, making dried fruits a healthy and smart choice for a snack.
Nuts – Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients. They are a great snack food because they are easy to store and easy to pack when you’re on the go.
This, of course, is just a small section of snack foods that are healthy and benefit theheart. For more information on recommended heart-healthy foods, visit the American Heart Association.
The Truly Easy Heart-Healthy Cookbook
125 easy-to-make, healthy recipes that will help you manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Embrace a cardiac-conscious diet that features Mediterranean and vegetarian recipes without losing out on great taste. Learn about the best foods to eat or limit, as well as how to stock the pantry so you always have delicious, heart-healthy ingredients on hand.
Remember that what you eat is very important to the health of your heart.