Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. But you can do a lot to protect your heart and stay healthy. We are in the last week of February and to wrap up heart health month, I wanted to share some tips on how to be kinder to your heart.
H – HAPPINESS is good for your overall health, but particularly good for your heart. Stress, anxiety, and negative emotions can significantly increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. “Happiness was associated with a 22% lower risk over a 10-year study period, even after risk factors were accounted for, such as age, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.”
Take some time to determine what makes you truly happy and do more of that!
E – EXERCISE like happiness is good for your overall health. However, for heart health, “a combination of aerobic workouts (which, depending on your fitness level, can include walking, running, swimming, and other vigorous heart-pumping exercise) and strength training (weight lifting, resistance training) is considered best for heart health. These exercises improve the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood. That reduces the need for the heart—a muscular organ itself—to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles, whatever your age.”
A – AVOID not being happy and not exercising! Additionally, Harvard Health Publishing recommends avoiding or decreasing consumption of the following foods:
Processed meats: Studies have shown that these are the worst types of meat for the heart because of the levels of preservatives and salt.
Highly refined and processed grains and carbohydrates: Refined or processed foods include white bread, white rice, low-fiber breakfast cereals, sweets and sugars, and other refined or processed carbohydrates. Why aren't these foods healthy? First, high levels of processing remove many of the most healthful components in whole grains, such as dietary fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, and fatty acids. Second, high levels of processing destroy the food's natural structure.
Soft drinks and other sugary drinks: Sugary drinks have all the same ill effects on the heart as highly refined and processed carbohydrates. Research also shows that your body does not compute the calories you ingest in liquid form in the same way as it does the calories you take in from solid foods.
R – RECIPES Now that you know what foods to avoid, check out one of my fav go-to sites for heart healthy recipes.
T – TAKE ACTION Determine what you can do to bring joy and happiness to your life.
Figure out ways to sneak in more exercise whether it’s taking the stairs vs. the elevator at work or taking a walk during your lunch hour