How to Give Your Heart the Love it Deserves
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 people 35 years or older die of heart disease in the United States every year—that’s one in every four deaths. The good news is, lifestyle factors play a key role in preventing and protecting against heart disease. Here’s Sun Basket’s eight-point plan to love your heart.
Escape to the Mediterranean
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, olive oil, nuts, poultry, and lean meats, aka the Mediterranean Diet, is one of the best ways to promote heart health. The landmark PREDIMED trial found that those eating a Mediterranean diet are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those on a standard low-fat diet. Try our Mediterranean meal plan for heart-healthy, delicious recipes.
Get Your Zzzzs
A lack of sleep can put you at higher risk of heart disease regardless of age, weight, and whether or not you smoke or exercise. A study from the University of Pennsylvania found that people who slept fewer than five hours a night are more likely to be obese and to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. To ensure a good night’s sleep, go to bed at an appropriate time, make your bedroom sleep-appropriate with dark blinds, and a comfortable temperature (the National Sleep Foundation recommends 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit). Although a sound-free environment is best for some, others find benefit in listening to soothing sounds from a sound machine or a sleep app.
Many studies show an association between higher fish consumption and a lowered risk of heart disease. In fact, Harvard researchers found that eating one to two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish a week—salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines—reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.
The heart is a muscle that needs to be active to stay healthy. People who don’t exercise are nearly twice as likely to get heart disease as people who are active. Experts recommend aiming for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking. It’s best to include muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days a week. You can start small and work your way up. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise plan.
Colorful fruits and vegetables, covering the full spectrum of the rainbow, are full of fiber and antioxidants that help protect against heart disease. Research shows that the higher the average daily intake of fruits and vegetables, the lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Compared with the lowest category of intake (less than 1.5 servings a day), those who averaged 8 or more servings a day were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
Protect your Pearly Whites
Research suggests that the bacteria that cause gum infections are linked to atherosclerosis, the arterial disease that leads to heart attacks and strokes. In addition to regular dental checkups, it is vital to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily to avoid the buildup of small amounts of food that attract bacteria.
Doing yoga a few hours each week can help you feel physically and mentally calmer and more balanced. A review study of yoga and cardiovascular disease also indicates that yoga may help lower heart disease risk as much as conventional exercise does.
Take it with a (Whole) Grain
A review study published in The Journal of Nutrition reported a 21 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals who consumed 3 to 5 servings of whole grains per week, compared to those who never, or rarely, included them in their diet. Black rice, bulgur, quinoa, millet, and amaranth are some heart-healthy whole grains to add to your meals.
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