With all the heart-shaped valentines and boxes of chocolate, February is a perfect reminder to take care of your heart. Romantic associations aside, the heart is the center of our circulation system, so it’s tremendously important to take action and practice healthy ways of living. After all, your heart is depending on it.
No matter your age, race, or ethnicity, people of all types are prone to heart disease. According to the CDC, almost half of Americans (47%) have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
While this statistic may seem frighteningly high, there are ways you and your loved ones can lower this percentage by making conscious lifestyle choices every day. Eating healthy foods, working out consistently, and eliminating unhealthy substances are all proven to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Implementing these practices will boost your heart health, and can even save lives.
So how exactly can you incorporate these practices into your life?
Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and fish have all been proven to prevent – and even reverse – heart disease. Even if they’re consumed only in small amounts, these nutrient-rich foods can improve your heart-health. Conversely, you should avoid anything containing too much high saturated fat, trans fat, and salt.
In addition to eating healthy, working out consistently is a major component of building and maintaining a strong heart. Starting out with a simple walk outside is a great way to start your exercise journey. It’s important to talk to your doctor to find the exercise level that’s safe for you – but any form of physical activity can contribute to a healthy, disease-free heart.
It’s also important to recognize when you need to remove certain risk factors from your life. Unhealthy substances, including alcohol and cigarettes, are major contributors to an unhealthy heart, especially when overused. Smoking cigarettes, and even inhaling too much secondhand smoke, increases heart disease, while drinking too much alcohol is also dangerous for the heart and may lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke.
These are just a few of the steps you can take to achieve a strong and healthy heart. It’s important to talk to your doctor about other ways of preventing heart disease, beyond these simple lifestyle changes that are proven to help. Slowly incorporating these methods into your lifestyle can make an exponential difference.
So this American Heart Month, take the time to think about your heart health – and how incorporating a nutrient-rich, healthy lifestyle can benefit your heart and your overall health.