10 heart health tips
Did you know that about four people will have a heart attack—and one person will die—in the time it takes to read this blog? Scary? Well, the good news is that heart disease is largely preventable, so if you are worried about heart disease, here are my top 10 tips to help you promote a strong and healthy heart. Read below and you will see that heart-disease prevention can be under YOUR control!
1. Make your plate colorful!
One of the best weapons for fighting off heart disease is an antioxidant-rich diet that comes from eating at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day. My children were raised with the expectation of at least three bright colors on their plate at dinner—red, orange, and dark green as a starting point—and my 3-year-old granddaughter’s favorites include tomatoes and broccoli.
2. Lose weight —for your heart!
Excess abdominal fat has been linked to high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure—all of which increase your risk of having a heart attack. Losing just 5%–10% of your body weight can make a big difference—and many studies have shown you can lower your risk by losing inches around your middle. I make a point of wearing pretty belts to be sure that I keep my waistline.
3. Boost your vitamin D intake
I was a sun worshiper in my 20s, but now I am smarter about decreasing my time in the sun and using sunscreen. As a result, I am absolutely committed to extra vitamin D intake, along with my multivitamin, as the best way to ensure that I retain an optimal vitamin D blood level for supporting my bones as well as helping to protect my heart! Recent research confirms that a majority of Americans may have suboptimal levels—don’t be one of them!
4. Eat salmon or other omega-3-rich fish at least two or three times per week
If you don’t like fish, however, don’t worry. Research is quite strong showing that fish oil supplements can help reduce your risk of heart disease, as well as help to lower your levels of triglycerides and blood pressure.
5. Consider taking a CoQ10 supplement
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance vital for energy production, especially in your heart. The body makes CoQ10, but factors such as aging, poor diet, and exposure to pollution and other chemicals may increase your need for this nutrient. If you are using a statin drug, be sure to talk to your physician about taking a CoQ10 supplement; recent research shows that taking a CoQ10 supplement may reduce some of the common side effects associated with statins.
6. Move more—at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week
Regular physical activity promotes a healthy heart. It helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps control weight, reduces anxiety, and improves blood circulation. I love to go for a run when it’s warm, but I’ll go to the gym instead in the colder months and power through at least 45 minutes on the Stairmaster® or elliptical machine.
7. If you smoke, get help to stop—starting today!
Cigarette smoke is strongly linked to heart and blood-vessel damage. I suggest finding a short-term reason to stop—saving money or having better-smelling breath, perhaps? Ladies: We know smoking ages your skin—and you certainly don’t want any extra wrinkles, right?!
8. Take it directly from this doctor: get your regular health screenings
If you are over 40, it is recommended that you have a physical exam every two years; if you are over 50, you should have one annually. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood-sugar levels all are risk factors for heart disease that your doctor will be checking. Make your appointment today!
9. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation; if you don’t drink, don’t start now
Moderate alcohol intake may help reduce the risk of heart disease. And just what is moderate drinking? Well, it is defined as one drink a day for a woman and two drinks a day for a man.
10. And last but certainly not least, be sure you smile frequently and have a good belly laugh every day!
Over time, chronic stress wreaks havoc on our bodies—slowing digestion, weakening immune function, and increasing the risk of heart disease. Laughter is some of the strongest medicine on the planet—you can’t maintain your anger toward your spouse, your boss, or your teenage daughter if you are having a good laugh! Try not to take things too seriously; don’t sweat the small stuff, and always look for the glass to be half full!
Here’s to your healthier heart!