Despite advances in medicine, cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer in America—Genetics can play a role in your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, your genetic predisposition isn’t destiny. Your day-to-day habits play a far more pivotal role than your genes or your family history. 74% of all cases of cardiovascular disease are caused by lifestyle choices. Therefore, you can lower your odds and improve your heart health through the habits you practice every day.
Diets for Heart Health
The biggest culprits for an unhealthy heart health are processed foods; high in refined grains, sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats. These foods also contribute to weight gain, which can undermine heart health. Those eating processed foods consumed approximately 500 calories more each day and gained more weight than those in the unprocessed group.
Now we understand that fast fatty foods have a certain charm to it. It’s easy, they taste good, it’s convenient, but they are not worth your long-term health. A heart-healthy diet revolves around unprocessed fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish, eggs, whole grains, nuts, and good-for-you fats. These foods are packed with heart-healthy nutrients that reduce inflammation and oxidation that can damage arteries. They also support healthy blood pressure, as well as a healthy weight.
Exercise for heart health
Even with the healthiest of hearts, it’s not enough to simply eat right. Exercise also has a lasting effect on heart health. Regular cardio exercise and strength training improve two markers of a healthy heart
Medical professionals recommend getting 30 to 40 minutes of exercise a day, at minimum—and a great starting point if you are new to regular exercise. In just 30 minutes of moderate activity can help lower your blood pressure, subdue inflammation, and give your HDL cholesterol levels an improvement.
As you become fitter and stronger, it is important that you challenge yourself with longer or more intense workouts. Clinical trials show that one particular type of exercise known as HITT or high intensity interval training gives multiple cardiovascular benefits, including improved oxygen uptake, better ventricular function, and more. Surprisingly, HIIT is more effective than a prolonged moderate-intensity workout for those who are obese or have coronary artery disease and heart failure.
HITT workouts is a type of training that involves repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times. For example: 10 exercises, 30seconds long with 30 seconds rest in between each workout. This will be repeated 2 to 3 times for the equivalent of a 20-to-30-minute workout. This type of training can be accomplished using body weight, resistance bands, free weights, medicine balls or weight machines.
Meditation for Heart Health
It’s no well-known fact that chronic stress can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Meditation often uses breathing exercises, quiet contemplation or sustained focus on something, that help you let go of stress and feel calm and peaceful. Stress is your body’s natural alarm system. It releases a hormone called adrenaline that makes your breathing speed up and your heart rate and blood pressure rise. It kicks us into action, which can be a good thing when we’re faced with a real danger or need to perform. But that “fight or flight” response can take a toll on your body when it goes on too long or is a regular occurrence. Mindfulness meditation provides a method for handling stress in a healthier way.
In all aspects of life, we encounter stress and anxiety, we forget our healthy eating habits. We go for the easy food instead of the healthy one. We look around and we forget to take care of our bodies by not doing daily exercise. Giving our heart extra work. We sometimes let life get in the way. But it is important to let our heart know that we are taking care of it. To live a better, longer, healthier life.
Written by Yu.A