5 Simple Tips for a Healthy Heart

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Heart in hands background image – © Romolo Tavani – fotolia.com

The heart might just be the most controversial organ in the body. Every year in the world of medical science, it seems that there’s new research that debunks last year’s research about what makes our heart healthy. For example new research on saturated fats is turning around our ideas about which fats are best – and many other factors that have effects on the human heart’s physical function are still under investigation.

However, the core principles of keeping your heart in good condition are well established: Avoid overloading the heart, keep it active and fit, and stay away from substances that can block your blood vessels. Here are some super tips – are you doing all of these?

1. Get Your Heart Checked
Unhealthy hearts have been likened to ticking time bombs; it’ll keep functioning normally until all of a sudden… it doesn’t. What you do over the years that has a cumulative effect: Years of eating unhealthy food, leading a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and excessive drinking may have taken a toll on your heart without you knowing it. So before changing diets or engaging in new physical activity, be sure to check with a doctor.

Heart function can be assessed by procedures such as blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG,) fairly simple tests that don’t take up too much time at all. Other diagnostic tests like an angiogram, an exercise stress test, or an MRI can be requested as well, and your doctor might suggest these more advanced tests done if you have existing conditions, symptoms of heart problems or a family history of cardiac-related diseases.

2. Eat A Heart-Friendly Diet
Studies suggest that a healthy change in diet significantly lessens the chances of your heart developing disease and complication. [1] It is advised to eat 1-2 servings of omega-3 rich, fatty fish, along with foods high in fiber, plenty of fresh fruits and lightly cooked or raw vegetables. It’s advised to limit servings of red meat, processed food, commercially prepared wheat, and packaged food items.

A heart friendly diet is also typically low in salt and low in fat. Watch out for labels that contain high amounts of sodium, since that essentially refers to the salt content. You might find sodium in extremely high amounts in sauces, soups, canned preparations, and condiments. Home made or organic, all-natural sauces generally have the least amount of sodium and preservatives, but keep in mind that shelf life is typically shorter for food products with less salt.

Your body needs fat to process any protein that you may have consumed. Limiting your fat consumption to healthy fats will help you with your daily dietary needs and keep your heart healthy at the same time. You can simplify your menu by switching ingredients instead of tossing your entire cookbook. Many cooking oils are highly processed and standardized. Olive oil is great for salad, but less so for cooking. Organic coconut oil is surprisingly versatile in the kitchen and also has the benefit of better temperature stability than olive oils for cooking. Look for a coconut oil that smells closer to fresh coconut. Lower grade coconut oil doesn’t smell as good. Once you have compared a few in this way, you will know.

3. Work Out For Your Heart
Although weight loss is a great goal for heart health, regular cardio workouts prevent cardiovascular disease in the healthy and prevent symptoms from occurring in people who already have it. [2] It’s important not to give up on your training program to reap the benefits it has for your heart. Remember that the heart is a muscle, and all muscles need training to perform better.

4. Stop Smoking
An increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease is directly related to smoking. [3] Cigarette smoking was also found to be the number one cause for Coronary Heart Disease; the leading cause of death in the United states. [4] Search for smoking cessation support groups in your community and ask your doctor about smoking cessation aides that can help you quit your addiction.

5. Chill Out
Prolonged stress lasting more than a month has been proven to have a direct connection with heart function and health. Stress management techniques can help. Meditation, taking a walk to get away from the source of the stress and get some deep breaths or listening to relaxing music while you’re stressed [5] are a few stress management techniques you can employ to preserve heart health.

Further Reading:

Top 10 Herbs For The Heart

Top 10 Herbs For Heart Palpitations


[1] Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease by Diet and Lifestyle – Evidence From Prospective Cross-Cultural, Cohort, and Intervention Studies. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/105/7/893.full

[2] Statement on Exercise: Benefits and Recommendations for Physical Activity Programs for All Americans – A Statement for Health Professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology. American Heart Association. http://scholarcommons.sc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1345&context=sph_epidemiology_biostatistics_facpub

[3] Cigarette smoking, Cardiovascular disease, and stroke. A statement from the American Heart Association. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/96/9/3243.full

[4] Heart Disease and Stroke. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/heart_disease/

[5] Relaxing Music Prevents Stress-Induced Increases in Subjective Anxiety, Systolic Blood Pressure, and Heart Rate in Healthy Males and Females. Oxford Journal of Music Therapy. http://jmt.oxfordjournals.org/content/38/4/254.short

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