A healthy heart offers many benefits, including the possibility of living a long, healthy life, relieving symptoms of depression, and reducing the risk of dementia. Fitness Buffhq, the certified fitness trainer & nutritionist at Just Fitness Hub, explains the best ways to keep a healthy heart.
Tips To Maintain Your Heart Healthy
Emotional health: Today, emotional health is the number 1 step for better heart health. Negative thoughts and emotions trigger the flight and fight response causing the production of cortisol. High levels of cortisol are also believed to raise inflammation, heart rate, and blood pressure – all of which can harm your heart. Yoga, meditation, pranayama, positive thoughts, etc., are some practical ways to heal yourself emotionally.
Important Tip: A few deep inhales and exhales work to calm your mind and heart. Deep breathing is believed to shift your body from a state of fight and flight to a state of calmness and digestion almost instantly and is a highly heart-healthy habit. Practice regular deep breathing to maintain your health in top gear.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods: Experts claim inflammation and oxidative damage in the heart, blood vessels, endothelial lining, and arteries as the leading causes of heart attacks. Oxidative damage and inflammation are caused by the free radicals you get from the food you eat, the air you breathe, and bad lifestyle habits. Foods such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, and black pepper – are potent foods that ward off inflammation. In addition, eat different colored seasonal vegetables, fruits, and berries.
Prioritize sleep: Lack of sleep or poor sleep can harm your heart. This is because when you sleep, your heart gets a break and works lesser. Being made of muscles, your heart needs recovery. Other harmful effects of lack of sleep are elevated blood pressure, increased inflammation, and insulin resistance.
Stay active: Experts claim excessive sitting is as bad as smoking. The risks of heart attacks are higher in people with sedentary lifestyle habits. Make sure you are physically active throughout the day. Walking in nature, exercising, yoga, dancing, and trekking are extremely beneficial activities for the heart.
Cut out smoking: Both active, as well as passive smoking, is bad for the heart. Smoking leads to both oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. In addition, the chemicals emitted from cigarette cab build up plaque in the arteries and harden them.
Ten foods that help your heart stay young and healthy
Good quality oils: Here are the oils that are good for your heart:
- Oils with high smoke points are suitable for high-heat frying and stir-frying. These include:
- Oils with moderately high smoke points are good for sauteing over medium-high heat. These include:
- Oils with low smoke points for use in salad dressings and dips:
Examples: Flaxseed, pumpkin seed, and walnut are best used in salad dressings and dips.
Omega 3-rich foods: Omega 3 fatty acid is essential for heart health. It fights inflammation, boosts HDL, lowers LDL, and helps heal arterial walls. It’s found in fatty fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. (link)
Beetroot – for its high antioxidant content and ability to work as a vasodilator.
Garlic: for its bad cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory properties. It also works as a natural blood thinner.
Organic tea (oolong, matcha, black, white): for its antioxidant content, particularly EGCG. Also, research now shows that it has cholesterol-lowering properties and can fight plaque buildup in the arteries.
For their high antioxidant properties, fruits like berries, grapes, and pomegranates.
Vitamin E-rich foods: for their ability to counteract inflammation, fight free radicals, repair cells, and heal arteries. It’s good for people who are exposed to cigarette and industrial pollution. Some examples of these foods are avocados, sunflower seeds, sesame, unsalted peanuts, and almonds.
Magnesium-rich foods: for their ability to improve cardiac muscle health and control blood pressure. Some examples: all nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables.
Potassium-rich foods: It manages blood pressure and helps regulate cardiac muscle contractions. It also helps keeps the heartbeat and rhythm steady. A few examples: Banana, avocado, and pumpkin.
Vitamin K-rich foods: for their high antioxidant properties and preventing calcification of arteries. Examples: Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, prunes, avocado.
Foods to avoid
Refined sugar and refined carbohydrate: Both can lead to inflammation and spikes in blood sugar levels and increase the risk of a heart attack. In addition, excess intake of both can cause higher triglyceride levels. On the other hand, complex carbs (like whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables & fruits) are all healthy carbs and can be included in your diet to boost heart health and avoid the risk of a heart attack. People who do not eat such complex carbs are usually deficient in Vitamin K2 – which can lead to the calcification of arteries.
Refined salt: While salt may not be inherently bad, too much can cause inflammation in the body, increase blood pressure and lead to water retention, burdening the kidneys. So, you need to limit your sodium intake.
Refined oils: Try to avoid refined vegetable oils as much as possible. They are harmful to the heart as they cause inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Processed and packaged foods: Packaged and processed food typically contain too much sodium, added sugars, and unhealthy fats, such as low-grade refined oil, causing oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. Manufacturers use sodium to preserve foods and modify their flavors. They also include certain additives to improve the texture and color of foods, which are reasons for increased heart attacks and stroke rates.
Excessive tea and coffee, alcohol: Overconsumption of tea and coffee can cause or aggravate acidity and inflammation, mainly if the beverage contains sugar, cream, and other additives. Alcohol, too, can cause inflammation, increase bad cholesterol, and raise blood pressure.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”