By Betty Murray
How healthy is your heart? Focusing on your heart health can reduce your risk of developing a potentially deadly heart disease.
Some people are easily overwhelmed with all the things they “should” be doing to stay healthy. There are aspects of your health you have no control over (such as family history), but here are some practice tips for a healthy heart.
1. Quit Smoking. If you are a smoker, this may be the most important thing you can do to control your risk factors for heart disease. If you need help or encouragement to quit smoking, talk to your doctor.
2. Cut out the belly fat. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, belly fat is the most dangerous type of fat. It can raise your blood pressure, have a negative effect on blood lipids and damage your heart. A healthy diet and regular exercise are the two factors that will keep belly fat under control.
3. Eat more fish. Consuming fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.
4. Laugh. According to research from the University of Maryland Medical Center, laughter improves blood flow and function of the blood vessels and relieves the stress that causes damage to the inner lining of blood vessels.
5. Drink red wine (in moderation). If you drink alcohol, red wine has more heart healthy benefits than other alcoholic beverages. Red wine can raise your HDL levels (good cholesterol), help prevent blood clots from forming and prevent damage to the arteries.
6. Exercise. Numerous studies over the years have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the number one risk factors for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That measures out to just 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If your busy schedule gets in the way, break it up into 10 or 15-minute increments. Aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate) is what you need to maintain a healthy heart.
7. Eliminate stress. Find an activity that is relaxing for you and do it as often as possible. Reducing stress lowers your blood pressure and reduces your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
You don’t have control over every aspect of your health, but you do have control over most. Don’t let getting heart healthy overwhelm you (doing so will only be counter active!) Focus on making small changes in your daily lifestyle to improve your heart health and overall health.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.