Ten tips to help you be heart healthy
Taking care of your heart should be at the top of your to-do list. But what should you be doing or not doing to live a heart healthy lifestyle? Cardiologist Francis Roosevelt Gilliam III, MD, shared these simple tips to help you take the best care of your heart.
- Walk briskly. Set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Take the stairs, starting with one flight up and two flights down. When parking, choose the farthest space from your destination. Every step counts.
- De-stress. At least once a day, go outdoors for fresh air and sunshine. You can hike or just sit in the park. Being outside significantly reduces stress hormones and lowers blood pressure, which benefits your heart.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. Increasing your intake by one serving a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 4%. Dark, leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits offer the most benefit.
- Enjoy dark chocolate. Eating a small 1.6 ounce portion every day can reduce your risk of blood clots and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries.
- Choose heart healthy food. Eat more salmon, ground flaxseed, oatmeal, pinto beans, raw almonds, walnuts and brown rice. They include omega-3 and other healthy fats, as well as fiber and nutrients that protect your heart.
- Get moving. At least 30 minutes of activity a day, five times a week is recommended. Do it all at once or split it into three 10-minute increments.
- Know your numbers. See your doctor regularly to make sure your blood pressure is under 120/80 mmHg, your total cholesterol is under 200 mg/dL, your fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dL and your body mass index is less than 25 Kg/m2.
- Get enough sleep. Seven hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep lowers your risk for cardiac issues, heart failure and stroke.
- Eat less salt. Avoid foods high in salt such as cold cuts, cheese, bacon, sausage, soups, bread, condiments, sauces and gravies, fast food, canned foods and frozen dinners.
- Keep healthy habits. Choose healthy foods, skip soda and sweetened beverages, don’t smoke and drink alcohol responsibly.
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