10 TIPS TO A HEALTHY HEART

February is National Heart Month

OUR HEARTS CAN’T SURVIVE WITHOUT A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE!
This month gives us the perfect excuse to drink a glass of red wine which is known to be good for your  !

LET’S NOT FORGET ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF EATING DARK CHOCOLATES!

10 TIPS TO A HEALTHY HEART

1. Aim for lucky number seven.
The next time you’re tempted to stay up later than you should, just think about how good that pillow will feel — and how good a full night’s sleep is for your heart. In one study, young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept 5 hours or less or those who slept 9 hours or more.
2. Keep the pressure off
If your blood pressure gets too high, the extra force can damage artery walls and create scar tissue, making it more difficult for blood and oxygen to get to and from the heart. The heart has to pump harder and gets worn out faster. Get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 years, or more often if it is already high. Many people are able to keep their levels in the healthy range by following an eating plan such as the DASH Diet or the Mediterranean diet. Cut back on salt, limit alcohol to no more than one to two drinks a day, manage your stress, and get regular exercise, too. If these changes alone don’t help, your doctor might recommend you also take medication.

3. Slash saturated fats
Too much “bad” cholesterol can clog the heart and arteries with dangerous plaque. It mostly comes from saturated and trans fats, found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, and fried or processed foods. So cut back on these products and cut out trans fats completely (check ingredients lists for anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” — those are trans fats). Adults should get a cholesterol blood test at least every 5 years. Your doctor should consider your other risk factors for heart disease when deciding what your goals should be.

4. Make a shift to avoid diabetes
Over time, high blood sugar damages arteries and puts you at risk for heart disease. Your doctor should test your blood sugar if you are 45 or older, if you are pregnant, or if you’re overweight and have other risk factors for diabetes. If you have diabetes, work with your doctor on your lifestyle (diet and exercise) and any medicine that you may need. If you have borderline high blood sugar, also called prediabetes, take action now to turn   things around. One simple swap is to trade processed carbs (like white rice) for fiber-rich whole grains (like brown rice). In one study, that simple swap slashed diabetes risk by 36%.

5. Sit less and sweat more
You should get at least 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate exercise, meaning any activity that gets you moving around and breaking a slight sweat. But really, every little bit counts. Also, pay attention to how much time you spend seated, whether it’s at work, in your car, or on your couch at home. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your desk job or throw away your favorite recliner. Break up long periods of sitting, and choose to stand or walk while doing things like talking on the phone or watching TV.

6. Have more fruit and less fruit juice
Your heart works best when it runs on clean fuel. That means lots of whole, plant-based foods (like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) and fewer refined or processed foods (like white bread, pasta, crackers, and cookies). One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice, which lacks the fiber that’s in actual fruit.

7. Crunch the numbers
Not sure if you need to slim down? The easiest way to find out is to calculate your body mass index (BMI), a number based on your weight in relation to your height. You’re considered overweight if you have a BMI of 25 or higher, which also means you’re more likely to get heart disease. A BMI of 30 or higher puts you in the even higher-risk “obese” category. You can lose weight by taking in fewer calories each day than you burn off, which usually means a combination of eating less food (or healthier foods) and getting more exercise.

8. Ditch the cigarettes, real and electronic
Smoking and secondhand smoke are bad for your heart. If you smoke, quit, and avoid spending time around others who smoke as well. E-cigarettes, which have become a popular alternative to tobacco products, have both a good and a bad side, Lloyd-Jones says. “They don’t contain the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, and they can help some people wean themselves off of smoking,” he says. “But they still do contain nicotine, so your goal should be to quit completely, not just switch to a less toxic version.”

9. Get a stress-busting hobby
You can’t avoid stress entirely. It’s part of a normal life. But you can choose how you deal with it. “I tell my patients that managing stress in a healthy way, whether it’s meditation, yoga, or exercise, is really important,” Sanghavi says. Having friends, a partner, or someone else you can lean on and talk to can also protect both your emotional health and your heart.

10. Throw your heart a birthday party!
You know that saying, “Not getting any younger?” It turns out you can get younger, at least when it comes to your heart health. Following all of these tips can help you keep a low “heart age,” a tool created by the CDC to help people understand their true risk for heart disease. Heart age is based on risk factors you can change (like those above) and those you can’t (like your age, gender, and family history). A 2015 CDC study found that 70% of Americans have heart ages older than their actual age: men by 7.8 years and women by 5.4 years, on average. It’s never too late to turn back the clock on your heart health, the CDC says. And knowing your heart age, and watching it come down over time, may be the motivation you need to make some of these important changes.

(source: WebMD)

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