HEALTHY HEART HABITS (PART I)
An estimated 17.9 million lives are lost to Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) every year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). This makes CVDs the number 1 cause of mortality worldwide accounting for about 31% of all deaths recorded. Moreover, 4 out of 5 CVD-related deaths are caused by heart attacks and strokes. This is why keeping your heart healthy should be your topmost health priority and usually, it starts with forming simple healthy heart habits.
Here are twenty (20) of them you must pick up and stick to.
1 of 20: DUMP YOUR DU MAURIER
If you want to have a healthy heart, then you’ll have to say goodbye to cigarettes! Smoking and the use of tobacco products are risk factors for heart disease. Smoking forms plaque in the blood vessels; these plaques can rupture and form blood clots inside your veins and arteries. This can increase your chances of getting a heart attack since the vessels that carry blood to the heart muscle are blocked by these clots. Moreover, if you’re not a smoker avoid secondhand smoking; the side effects can be the same as firsthand smoking.
2 of 20: BRUSH UP
This may seem bizarre (what has your tooth got to do with your heart, anyway!) but yes, keeping up with your oral hygiene can help keep your heart in good shape. Researchers have discovered that poor oral health can be a risk factor for CVDs. Apparently, the bacteria that cause gum disease can also cause heart disease. Bacteria can move through the bloodstream and get into the heart and cause an inflammation of the blood vessels. This can increase your risk for heart disease.
3 of 20: ROCK YOUR WALKING SHOES
And take a walk! It only takes a 30-minute brisk walk five times a week to keep your heart going strong. Walking also helps lower your stress levels which are key since stress also contributes to heart disease.
4 of 20: SKIMP UP ON THE SALT
Salt is also a major contributor to heart disease. Too much sodium (an ingredient in salt) in the blood makes the body retain a lot of fluid; with time this excess fluid causes the blood volume and blood pressure to rise which can put a strain on the heart. It’s advisable to cut your salt intake to a teaspoonful per day and to avoid eating out too much since most fast-food chains have too much salt in their meals.
5 of 20: SNOOZE
Getting enough sleep and the quality of sleep play an important role in your heart health. You need to have an average of 7 hours’ sleep every day – and it must be a really good or sound sleep too! It’s not exactly clear why not sleeping enough or well has adverse effects on your heart but many studies have discovered that the cause could be the effect lack of sleep has on certain biological processes in the body such as glucose metabolism and blood pressure which have serious repercussions for a person’s heart health. For instance, one study has proved that adults who slept 7 hours every night had less calcium in their arteries (which is an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept for five hours or less. No wonder sleep apnea patients are more prone to heart disease.
To get more details on the benefits of sleep read Why We Sleep By Matthew Walker.
6 of 20: HAVE A NUTTY MEAL
Going nuts (well, not literally – laugh out loud!) or making nuts a part of your diet can reduce your chances of getting CVDs. Nuts are a powerhouse of fiber, protein and fats that are healthy for the heart. So be sure to get your daily scoop of almonds, peanuts, walnuts and whatnots (eat them in moderation though since most nuts are also rich in calories).
7 of 20: BE A FAN OF FISH
Fish like tuna, sardine, cod, salmon, mackerel, trout and herrings are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which has a lot of heart-healthy benefits and can keep heart diseases at bay. You need to eat fish at least twice a week to keep your ticker healthy.
8 of 20: CRAVE FOR CHOCOLATES
Bite into a bar of dark chocolate if you want to lower your risk of getting heart disease. Dark chocolates contain certain substances called flavonoids which are good for the heart. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidant agents and help to protect the heart from toxins. Do not eat dark chocolates sweetened with too much milk and eat them moderately if you want to get the best out of them for your heart.
9 of 20: BREAKFAST DAILY
Breakfast they say is the most important meal of the day – providing us with the energy we need. But apparently, eating a healthy breakfast also keeps your heart healthy because it helps you to maintain a healthy diet and weight which are very key to heart health. So eat your breakfast like a king as advised by the nutritionist, Adelle Davis and make sure it’s a balanced meal of whole grains, lean protein, skimmed dairy, fruits and veggies.
10 of 20: TRIM DOWN THE TUMMY
It has been discovered by new research that the risk for stroke and heart attack is much higher in women who carry a lot of fat around their waist or tummy than those who do around their thighs. A word to the wise is enough! It’s time to hit that treadmill and cut down on the calories so you can shed off all the tummy fat, don’t you agree?
Find out in Part II of this blog post, the remaining ten heart-healthy habits.
Disclaimer: The information shared by this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be professional medical advice and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician concerning anything you have read here.
By Nana Ama Afoa Osae I Writer I GreatWonderful Team
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