The best ways to improve your heart health are to eat well, get regular exercise and avoid harmful behaviors such as smoking. You can also take medications prescribed by your doctor to reduce your risk of developing heart disease or a heart attack.
A healthy diet contains plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limits red meats, sugary drinks and fat-containing foods like butter and cheese. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is especially important because different colors of produce contain different nutrients, including antioxidants that can help protect your heart from damage.
Besides being a great source of antioxidants, many fruits and vegetables have fiber, which is good for your heart. Try to eat at least seven servings of fruit and veggies per day.
Choose fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables that are low in salt. This can help lower blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart problems.
Limit or eliminate the use of processed foods such as canned goods, frozen meals and jarred sauces. Processed foods are high in calories, sodium and trans fats.
Replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, fish and oils. Unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish and nuts, may help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Add more vegetables and beans to your meals. These vegetables are high in potassium, a mineral that helps control blood pressure. They are also good sources of vitamin C and magnesium, which help keep blood vessels smooth and lower your risk of a heart attack.
Countless studies have shown that a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables is not only good for your heart but also can help you lose weight. A diet with plenty of plant-based foods is also low in saturated and trans fats, and high in fiber.
Include at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week. This includes brisk walking, cycling and swimming.
Customize your routine based on your age, gender and physical activity level. For example, you can start with three days of moderate-intensity cardio and one day of strength training or yoga. Then, add more days of cardio as you gain fitness and your doctor recommends.
Aerobic or cardio exercises raise your heart rate, which makes it pump more blood through your body with each beat. This is why aerobic exercise is so helpful for reducing your risk of developing heart disease or a stroke.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, but it’s up to you how much and how long you do each workout.
In addition to reducing your risk of developing heart disease, cardiovascular exercise can improve your overall quality of life. It can also help you feel more confident, improve your mood and boost your energy level.
Adding more heart-healthy activities to your lifestyle is easy, enjoyable and fun. Whether you enjoy a walk around the neighborhood or an hour of strength training, there’s something for everyone to do.