There was a time when no one thought about their own heart health unless they had a close call. After having chest pains or even a heart attack, a doctor might suggest steps to take and then people would begin to change their lives. Now, it has become increasingly obvious that the time to think about these issues is before problems develop. Here are 7 ways you can begin.
1. Exercise regularly. A regular workout is good for your heart as well as your waistline. You do not have to bench press heavy weights or run marathons. Anything that will elevate your heart rate to a good target level should be sufficient. The right level for good heart health should be somewhere between your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate. A good rule of thumb is that if you can converse as you exercise, you are not overdoing it.
2. Eat colorful, low-fat meals. Adding color to your meals will give you a lot of nutrition to help you maintain good heart health. If you eat an assortment of colors of vegetables and fruits, you will be getting a variety of vitamins and minerals too. As you concentrate on produce as a key element in your diet, remember that these foods should not be drowned in heavy fats. Accompany them with fish or lean chicken for a low-fat meal.
3. Get good sleep. Getting enough rest is vital to good heart health. A strong correlation seems to exist between a lack of sleep and developing certain heart conditions. It appears that 7 to 8 hours is about right, while 5 or less can be harmful. Even sleeping too much may be a heart risk. Do yourself a favor and get just the right amount of sleep. If you think you have a sleep disorder, this is a great reason to get help with it.
4. Reduce your stress. Stress not only creates problems within your body, such as dangerously elevated levels of certain hormones; it also may contribute to how you manage your other risks. When you are under stress, you are not so focused on what you will eat, how you will exercise, and other habits you might have. You can improve your health by learning to meditate, pray, or just plain relax.
5. Take fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fish oil supplements have been shown to help with certain aspects of heart health. If your triglycerides are high, it can be a precursor to heart problems if not treated. Omega-3 fish oil supplements can lower those triglycerides significantly or keep them at a healthy level. Omega-3 has also been shown to help by reducing arrhythmias and decreasing plaque in the circulatory system.
6. Try garlic supplements. You may or may not decide to use them as a part of your daily regimen. The evidence on whether garlic helps your heart is mixed. It seems to lower blood cholesterol somewhat, and may lower blood pressure. It can be helpful, and many people have seen good results from using it. It is not a dangerous substance by any means so it would not hurt to try.
7. You can get a supplement containing plant sterols. Plant sterols are well known for their ability to maintain low cholesterol levels. They work by imitating cholesterol and preventing its absorption into the body. They can be found added to certain foods or in capsule form as supplements.
It is never too early to think about taking care of your heart. It is important to see your doctor and discuss all the ways you can live a healthy life. Not all methods are suitable for everyone, and only you and your doctor can decide. However, these 7 paths to heart health and wellness are a good place to begin the conversation.