Each February, we recognize American Heart Month as a time to spread awareness of cardiovascular disease. With cardiovascular disease the leading cause of death in the world, contributing to 17.9 million deaths every year, we should all take steps to educate ourselves on heart health. Keep these three tips in mind to improve your own heart health.
Support your heart with a healthy diet. Researchers continue to disagree over saturated fats, and whether they are actually harmful to your heart. But we do know that unsaturated fats, such as those found in fish, nuts, and seeds, will reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.
While you’re adjusting your diet, remember to include plenty of fiber from sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Women should aim for about 25 grams of fiber daily, and men should try to fit about 38 grams of fiber into their diets.
Speaking of vegetables, they contain more heart-healthy nutrients than just fiber. So add veggies to your meals any way you can, and snack on fresh produce throughout the day, to support your health with important vitamins and micronutrients.
Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. Aerobic exercise is best, but remember to check with your doctor about activities that are safe for you. If your knees and other joints bother you, there are plenty of aerobic exercises (such as swimming, stationary bikes, or elliptical machines) that provide pain-free exercise options.
Keep stress under control. Chronic stress increases your blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular damage over time. Keep in mind that mental health affects your physical health, and take measures to manage stress such as counseling, appropriate sleep, yoga, meditation, massages, or whatever works for you individually.
Of course, remember to attend all regular appointments and screenings with your physician. If a cardiovascular problem does develop, early detection and treatment can help you live a longer, happier life.