It’s no secret that one’s susceptibility toward heart disease may be inherited – yet keeping your heart in tip-top shape doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult with savvy lifestyle choices.
maintain a healthy weight & remember to move – Carrying extra weight, especially stomach fat, has a negative effect on blood pressure and arteries. But start to exercise, especially aerobic and strength-conditioning, and cardiac risk factors tend to plummet. Whether it’s brisk walking, jogging or strength training, it’s all good for the ticker. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, five days a week.
reduce stress & laugh more – Blood pressure and heart rate escalate with high levels of stress. Research shows that mental stress can be potentially damaging to your heart. Creating peaceful interludes in your day (or engaging in yoga, tai chi or meditation) provides respite. Laughter has also been found to have a beneficial effect upon blood vessel lining – so keep that sense of humor alive and you’ll do your heart good.
knock out inflammation with high fiber – Not only are whole grains and legumes (like brown rice and lentils) more filling, they tout lots of soluble fiber. And it’s fiber that’s the good guy in controlling damaging inflammation of the arteries. Barley, beans and oats are top choices.
choose high quality proteins & fats – Select lean meats, vegetable-based protein and low-mercury fish high in omega-3s like salmon, sardines and trout. Look for fat-free, 1-percent fat and low-fat dairy products, and don’t forget to stock your cupboard with beneficial oils like canola, olive, safflower and soybean. Read nutrition labels carefully and keep an eye out for unfavorable trans fats.