The heart is one of the most important organs of our body. It is such a vital organ and, not only does it keep the blood flowing through our body but also keeps the blood pressure under control. Heart health is something that you cannot afford to ignore if you wish to lead a healthy life away from high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and any other heart diseases.
But the minute you think about living a healthier life, you feel overwhelmed with all the major lifestyle changes you have to make to ensure you keep yourself far away from any heart-related issues. However, you can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and maintain your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels by just making simple lifestyle changes.
Our recommended Healthy lifestyle changes can:
- Help you maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels
- Reduce the risk of heart diseases
- Help you live a longer and healthier life
So, how to improve heart health?
Here are 7 key steps to improve heart health naturally:
Choose heart-healthy fats
Fats include fatty acids that can be categorized as saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are found in red meat and high-fat dairy products that in excess increase total and LDL cholesterol. This can lead to heart disease issues like plaque build-up in the arteries. On the other hand, unsaturated fatty acids like MUFAs and PUFAs are heart-healthy and might reduce LDL cholesterol and inflammation in the body. These heart-healthy fats can be found in vegetable oils, fatty fish, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.
You should also choose a healthy oil for cooking, which can help lower LDL cholesterol. Saffola Gold’s dual-seed technology gives a good balance of healthy fatty acids like MUFA and PUFA for better nutrition through fats, unlike most single-seed oils. It also contains oryzanol which helps manage your cholesterol levels. It is one of the best oils to use for cooking.
Increase the intake of dietary fibre
Being overweight and obese is linked to heart disease such as high blood pressure. The fibre in the form of soluble and insoluble fibre has various health benefits. Fibre helps in providing satiety by adding bulk to the diet but it also has other specific benefits like cholesterol management and maintaining bowel health. Fibre-rich foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables packed with other nutrients as well. These heart-healthy foods also help in weight management, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. You can add high-fibre foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to your heart-healthy diet plan.
Sit less, move more:
According to the World Health Organization at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic exercise per week should be done. Aerobic exercises like dancing, cycling, and cardio help improve cardiac output. Whereas, muscle-building activities such as weight lifting or using resistance bands can help you build strength and endurance and also improve. According to American Heart Association, even 10 minutes of moderate activity per day can be beneficial for health so a quick walk or jog can be heart-healthy compared to just sitting and doing nothing. If you have a desk job, take regular walk breaks throughout the day. Physical inactivity is linked to a greater risk of heart disease. So get moving!
Quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption
Quitting smoking is another golden heart healthy tip you must follow. Breaking away from this habit of smoking can reduce the risk of heart disease. Passive smoking also leads to serious heart and lung problems, so if you have smokers around you, request them to not smoke around you or better still, quit smoking.
Alcohol consumption in moderation is key. More than 3 drinks a day on a regular basis has been shown to increase your risk of high blood pressure. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends no more than 2 drinks a day for adults.
Reduce the intake of sodium
The World Health Organization and ICMR recommend no more than 2000 mg/day of sodium equivalent to not more than 5g salt/day. Sodium is an essential nutrient for the body, however, excess sodium has been linked to adverse health outcomes. High sodium consumption and insufficient potassium intake contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The more salt consumption is restricted, the greater the control over blood pressure levels.
Make sure you read nutritional tables before purchasing chips, sauces, and marinades high in sodium. Most people consume too much salt, reducing table salt consumption and shifting to low sodium salts may be helpful. However, low-sodium salts should be consumed and checked for potassium salts by people on low-potassium diets.
The mind-body connection has an effect on your cardiovascular health. If stress is a daily part of your life, then you are at a greater risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Create a strategy to manage stress better such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or prayer to de-stress. Reach out to loved ones to get the emotional support you need during stressful situations.
Manage or control diabetes
Diabetes is a condition characterised primarily by high blood sugar levels. Since high blood sugar levels can increase inflammation in the body, diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. In an Indian study of non-diabetic subjects with acute coronary syndrome, 46% had prediabetes, and 37% had diabetes. So the bottom line is, managing diabetes is elemental in keeping you away from heart disease.
Choosing healthy foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables that provide fibre, antioxidants, etc can be good to manage diabetes and heart health. Daily exercise and healthy eating, can greatly improve blood glucose levels, as well as help, shed excess body fat; a major risk factor for diabetes.
To summarise, your heart is one of the most important organs within your body, which has the responsibility of keeping you alive. Therefore it is your duty to take the best care possible of your heart by following these heart health tips on a daily basis. Slowly but surely you will see a significant change by adopting these heart-healthy habits on a regular basis.