10 Ways to Keep Your Health and Heart in Their Prime
This statistic may shock you, but heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Scary, right? No matter what your age, you can benefit from lowering your risk of the disease. Aim to check these off your list for a happy heart.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying too much extra weight, especially around your midsection, can put you at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Aim to get to a healthy weight with these smart and sensible weight-loss tips.
The link between cigarettes and heart disease is just as strong as smokers' risks of lung cancer, so just don't do it. Limiting exposure to secondhand smoke is also important; the AHA reports that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke were 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer than those not regularly exposed to it.
Focus on Fresh, Whole Foods
Your diet should be high in fresh fruits and vegetables in order to keep your heart its healthiest. Fruit can help quell sugar cravings the healthy way, while high-fiber produce helps control blood sugar levels. Fruits and vegetables are also high in disease-fighting antioxidants, so load up on produce the next time you take a trip to the store or farmers market.
Get 150 Minutes of Exercise a Week
That's the minimum amount of moderate-intensity exercise (like brisk walking) that the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends in order to help keep your heart in tip-top shape. Start with any of these workouts you can do at home.
Check Your Blood Sugar Levels
It can help to know your blood sugar levels, especially if you are at risk for diabetes, are pregnant, or are over 40. Have a fasting blood glucose test done every three years to help you monitor your heart disease risk. Make an appointment with your doctor to get yours checked soon.
Stress can raise your blood pressure and damage artery walls, so recognize signs of stress and take a break so that you can lower your stress levels. These 20 ways to de-stress, like doing yoga or taking a relaxing bath, can help.
Ditch the Soda Habit
The AHA recommends only six teaspoons of added sugar a day, less than what's in one can of sugar-sweetened soda (nine teaspoons). Studies have linked high sugar intake to death by heart disease, so it's important to limit the amount of sugar in your diet. Eliminating sweetened drinks is a great place to start. You can take it a step further by trying this plan to break a sugar addiction.
Diets rich in fish, olive oil, and nuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to help reduce heart disease risk. Add these Mediterranean staples to your diet to give your heart a healthy boost.
Know Your Numbers
Knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, since high blood pressure doesn't have any symptoms. If your blood pressure is over 120/80, you could be at risk for heart disease or stroke.
Limit Processed Meats
Studies have shown that those who regularly eat processed meats like bacon and sausage have a much higher risk of dying early from heart conditions. One study recommends limiting your processed meat consumption to 20 grams a day, or about one strip of bacon.