February is American Heart Month. Millions are affected by the side effects of heart disease, which in many cases can be prevented. According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. While this statistic is alarming, it is possible to prevent and also slow down the effects of heart disease with a few simple lifestyle modifications. Keep your heart healthy by incorporating the tips found in this article into your daily routine.
1. Healthy Fats. Rather than trying to avoid fat all together, choosing food options that contain “healthy fats” are a better option. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat that can be found in several food choices such as salmon, almonds, walnuts and black beans. Modify your diet to be heart healthy with the 25 food options listed here.
2. Be Active. Being active does not mean living in the gym each day and struggling on a stair master. Being active can be something as simple as walking your dog or riding a stationary bike. Here are a few guidelines that the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends for heart health.
- For overall cardiovascular health, get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes.
- At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
3. Avoid Smoking. If you do not smoke or have quit smoking, you are reducing your risk for heart disease tremendously. Smoking is known to increase blood pressure while damaging your heart and blood vessels. Quitting right now may not be easy, but it will put you on the path to improving your heart health.
If you are not a smoker, but are constantly exposed to smoke through family, friends or your workplace, you are unintentionally putting yourself at risk due to the second hand smoke. Do your best to remain in well ventilated areas when you know that you will be exposed to smoke to greatly reduce your chances of developing heart disease.
4. Sleep Well. People who sleep five hours or less a night may be at higher risk of developing or worsening already high blood pressure. According to a study by the AHA, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, a potential cause of heart disease. The better night’s sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be.
5. Reduce Added Sugar. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day! The AHA recommends no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for women. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons. Sugar is hidden in popular every day food items such as bread, dressing, yogurt, juice and soda. Be mindful and read the labels on products before buying them. You can easily limit your sugar intake from beverages by incorporating one sugar-free Celsius into your daily routine. Celsius is also proven to help boost your metabolism while burning body fat. You can learn more about the great benefits of Celsius here!
6. Easy on the Salt. A high sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure. The AHA recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams a day, yet the average American eats over 3,000 milligrams a day.
These are just 6 of many heart healthy tips that can help you prevent or minimize the effects of heart disease. Don’t allow yourself to become a statistic by not caring for your body. Small changes over time can yield drastic results for the future. Stay patient and persistent on your path to a healthy heart!