Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And while many people view February as the month of love, it’s also American Heart Month. Why is that important? Because heart disease doesn’t just happen to older adults anymore. According to the CDC, it’s happening to younger adults more and more often.1 This may be because heart-related conditions like obesity and high blood pressure are now more prevalent among younger people.
In light of this, we would like to share some helpful tips to help you achieve and maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. So show your heart some love with the tips below.
Before we dive into our heart health tips, we want to preface this all by saying that one of the best ways to keep up these healthy tips and habits is to repeat them for 21 days, and build them into your daily routine. Eventually, you will do them so many times that they will become second nature, and you won’t have to think twice!
- Eat colorful foods. A healthful diet is at the heart of good cardiovascular health. Try adding fiber-rich foods—especially fresh fruits and vegetables—to your daily meals. Also take time to read nutrition labels. This can help you avoid foods high in sodium and unhealthy trans fats. Another helpful tip? Switch from processed carbs like pasta or white bread to whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, beans, and lentils.
- Portion patrol. Eating fruits and vegetables is all well and good, but not if you’re eating two or three times more than what your portion size should be. One easy way to downsize your portions is to eat off of a smaller plate. The average dinner plate today clocks in at 12 inches, so switching to a slightly smaller plate—think 8 inches—will help you easily control the amount of food you’re eating. Plus, it will make your portions looks larger so it’s a win-win!
- Catch those Zzzz’s. Sleep is critical for a healthy heart. People who don’t get enough high-quality sleep are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.2 The quality and quantity of sleep you get also affects your energy levels the next day. Adopt a regular bed time and stick to it. This will help you get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Set the stage for a better night’s sleep by shutting off your electronic devices at least half an hour before turning in to give your mind and body time to unwind.
- Get moving. Regular aerobic exercise fosters better blood flow to and from your heart and supports the health of the circulatory system.3 While running, jogging, or biking are all aerobic activities, simply increasing the number of steps you take daily is an easy way to increase your physical activity. That could mean incorporating a brisk 30-minute walk or it could mean parking farther away from the entrance of the grocery store. In fact, parking towards the perimeter of the parking lot not only helps you get those steps in, the extra walking also increases your heart rate.
- Brush and floss. This might not sound like it is related to heart health, but studies that show that your dental health and your cardiovascular health are intertwined. Some studies show that bacteria in the mouth, when released into the bloodstream, can trigger inflammation and contribute to hardening of the arteries. This, in turn, can lead to heart attack and stroke.3 So make sure to brush twice each day and floss once.
Supplements can also help! If you are looking for an all-natural herbal supplement to add to your heart-smart regimen, consider looking for a one that contains aged garlic extract. One clinical trial that was published in The Journal of Nutrition found that aged garlic extract slowed the accumulation of plaque in the arteries.4 Click here to read more about this trial and about how aged garlic extract can impact heart health.
- Heart disease: it can happen at any age. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. n.d. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/any_age.htm
- Nagai M, Hoshide S, Kario K, et al. Sleep duration as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease-a review of recent literature. Current Cardiology Reviews. 2010; 6(1): 54-61.
- Burgess L. How to improve circulation. Medical News Today. 2018. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320793#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
- Gum disease and the connection to heart disease. Harvard Health Publishing. 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/gum-disease-and-the-connection-to-heart-disease
- Shaikh K, Kinninger A, Cherukuri L, et al. Aged garlic extract reduces low attenuation plaque in coronary arteries of patients with diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 2019; 19(2): 1457-1461.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.