Heart is one of the most active organs, a muscle that never sleeps. Learn top 20 tips to improve your heart health.
- Eat locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables for a healthy heart. Avoid fancy fruits that have completed overseas travel before they land on your plate for two reasons: such fruits and greens are expensive and they are low in nutrients. Prefer seasonal greens and fruits and your health and budget is going to thank you.
- Which oils are good for your heart? Refined oils go through several levels of purification, which strips them of the essential fatty acids. Ideally, you should cook food in olive oil, but mustard oil is equally good, as it has perfect balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
- Stay away from feasting and fasting, as they can stress heart. Surge of sugar and cholesterol after a heavy meal increases the workload on heart and also increases the deposition of cholesterol in blood vessels. So eating meals on time is good for heart. Better, you should eat six small meals in day to keep the glucose level at an even keel.
- Get omega-3 for a healthy heart. Fish contains a large amount of polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-3 fatty acid), which prevents deposition of bad cholesterol (LDL Cholesterol) in blood vessels. For vegetarians, flax seeds and walnuts are good sources of omega-3 fatty acid.
- Say no to table salt. Shaking a bit of salt can lead to hypertension. Eating salt is an acquired habit and you can retrain your taste buds.
- Be aware of foods. Junk foods, deep fried foods, red meat, full-fat milk, hydrogenated products (read bakery biscuits and cakes) are at best avoided and if you must eat them, then have it in moderation.
FITNESS LEVEL AND YOUR HEART
7. Walking is good for your heart. Regular brisk walking for 30-40 minutes daily for at least 5 days a week is the best exercise for the heart. Does it sound too much? Break it into two parts to get a healthy heart because your heart is a muscle and like all muscles, it can benefit with some amount of moderate activity. Lift weights for an active heart.
8. Drink a glass of water before your meals. The reason is simple. It is an effective way to eat less, which means you can keep your weight in check.
9. Measure your waist. The BMI is a good, but imperfect guide. Muscle weighs more than fat, for instance, and women and men who are very muscular and physically fit can have high BMIs without added health risks. Because of that, waist circumference also is a useful tool to measure how much abdominal fat you have
- Men are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (101.6 centimeters, or cm)
- Women are overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (88.9 cm)
10. Learn yoga for an active heart. Yoga helps you stretch your limbs which keep them supple and flexible. A study recently published in the American Journal of Physiology has found that stretching exercises as in Yoga, don’t just help with stiff muscles and joints but prevents stiff arteries as well, which means less clog and lower risk of heart-related disease. Elastic blood vessels help moderate blood pressure. If you are able to reach to or beyond toes, your systolic blood pressure number would be lesser than your non-flexible peers, found researchers
MODIFY YOUR LIFESTYLE FOR A HEALTHY HEART
11. Quit smoking for a healthy heart. Inhaling tobacco smoke causes several immediate responses within the heart and its blood vessels. Within one minute of starting to smoke, the heart rate begins to rise. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke exerts a negative effect on the heart by reducing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.
12. Get eight hours of sleep. If you’re wondering how less sleep affects your heart, the answer is that too little sleep may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a report in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association. Around one-fourth of the people aged from 32 to 59 who slept for five or fewer hours, a night developed hypertension, compared with 12 percent of those who got seven or eight hours.
13. Laugh every day for a healthy heart. Look around and you will find that the kids burst into giggles for no rhyme or reason, but adults wear a somber expression all the time. Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you are laughing. It helps you relax, recharge and reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more. Moreover, humour shifts perspective and you look at things in less threatening light. If you find it difficult to loosen up in front of others, try watching hilarious movies and comedies. It’s a good way to get the daily dose of chuckles.
14. How about forgiving people? Well, it’s quite a difficult task, but in the ultimate analysis, you only forgive yourself when you forgive others. Pent up hurt, guilt and regrets are not good for your heart.
15. Get a pet home. Friends need not be human. Heart patients who develop a close relationship with a dog, cat or any other pet animal recover significantly faster and live longer. This is because by providing unconditional affection and love, pets reduce stress levels in their owners.
16. Do not worry for a healthy heart. According to a recent study, it has been found that 15 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease suffered from stress. Quit worrying because unmanaged stress can lead to high blood pressure, arterial damage and a weak immune system. During recovery from cardiac surgery, stress can intensify pain, worsen fatigue and sluggishness, or cause a person to withdraw into social isolation.
THE RIGHT HERBS FOR YOUR HEART
17. Arjuna (Terminalia Arjuna) extracts of the tree of arjuna bark are used to treat cardiovascular diseases, in Ayurveda. The bark of the arjuna tree has potent antioxidants that are comparable to vitamin E with a significant cholesterol-lowering effect.
Research studies go on to prove that arjuna bark extract when given to patients with stable angina, or chest pain led to improvement in clinical and treadmill exercise parameters.
18. Rason (Allium sativum) extracts or garlic helps prevent hardening of blood vessels of the heart and works as an effective cholesterol lowering agent and even helps reduce triglycerides, blood fats that are closely linked to heart disease. Garlic can even lower blood pressure as effectively as some drugs (as shown in studies where subjects supplemented with daily dosages ranging from 600 – 900 mg over a period of 3-6 months.
19. Apple cider vinegar is rich in acetic acid. It helps reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides in arteries. It also increases good cholesterol. This helps normalise high blood pressure and improves your heart health.
20. Onions contain two important flavonoid compounds that act as antioxidants: sulfur and quercetin. Quercetin supplements have been shown in studies to significantly reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients (who took 730 mg of quercetin daily for one month).
Follow these 20 tips and keep your heart young, active and healthy.