Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US for most people regardless of gender, ethnicity, and race, and current lifestyle trends are causing this problem to continue to grow.
While the statistics can be alarming, you can help reverse this trend by making your heart health a priority. At the Y, we want to encourage you to start and maintain a healthier, more active lifestyle. Start by finding out what your heart rate is with our Healthy Heart Rate Calculator!
The Bottom Line
There’s no shortage of fad diets and supplements or or miracle exercise routines that promise changes almost overnight—unfortunately, many of these options aren’t a healthy or long-term solution. Eating healthier and getting exercise throughout the week are the keys to living a more balanced lifestyle!
Healthy Heart Rate Calculator
Five Foods to Keep in Your Kitchen
Leafy Green Vegetables
Spinach, kale, and collard greens are excellent sources of vitamin K that can help to protect your arteries and promote proper blood clotting.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are packed with antioxidants that can reduce the inflammation that contributes to heart disease.
Rich in nutrients and high in fiber, this combination can help to reduce “bad” cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
As an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, they lower the risk of heart disease. They're also a great source of vitamins C, E, K, B6, potassium, and magnesium.
It’s loaded with antioxidants which help to relieve inflammation and improve heart health. It's also another great source of healthier monounsaturated fat.
FIVE FOODS TO EAT LESS OR AVOID
- Deep-fried foods add calories and saturated fat to what might otherwise be a healthy choice like a chicken breast or fish. Choose baking, roasting, or grilling over deep frying.
- Red meat is another food that is high in saturated fats. Limit your portions of red meat and look for leaner cuts.
- Processed meats like hot dogs, sausage, salami, and lunch meat are full of high amounts of salt and saturated fat. This can all lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and heart disease.
- Bacon is full of calories, sodium, and nitrates. Try Canadian bacon—it tastes similar to that traditional flavor but is an ultra-lean option.
- Baked goods full of sugar and white flour increase triglyceride (a specific type of fat) levels which could lead to heart disease. Try healthy swaps like adding whole-wheat flour or plant-based oils instead of butter.
Get More Exercise
It may sound repetitive, but getting more exercise doesn’t mean having to spend a crazy amount of time at the gym every single day. Even small physical adjustments will make a difference! But what’re some little things that could help you get more active? Try parking further away from the entrance to the store or your office, get a few more steps in and take the stairs when you can, and add a few minutes of stretching to your morning routine.
Keep in mind...
It’s important to remember not to push your body to do too much too soon. Not only could you get injured, but you could also get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Smaller, manageable activity that’s consistent will have a much bigger impact. The heart is a muscle and like the rest of the muscles in our bodies, it will grow stronger over time with regular exercise.
Get into a Better Routine
Exercise and diet are the foundation of a healthy heart, but practicing healthy lifestyle habits is just as important.
Show even more love to your heart by getting at least eight hours of sleep every night and getting involved in activities that bring you happiness. Be mindful to only consume alcohol in moderation, and cross “quit smoking” off that bucket list! You should also visit your medical professional regularly for wellness exams. By tracking your cholesterol, blood pressure, and openly sharing family medical history, you can ensure your heart health is top of mind. Please check with your doctor before starting or changing any exercise regimen.
Quick Tips to Form Healthier Habits
- Get Plenty of Rest
- Manage Your Stress
- Consider Moderation
- Get Regular Checkups