Maybe you recently talked with your health care provider and the important topic of heart health came up, or maybe you just think it’s time to focus more on your health. Regardless of what brought you here, heart health is an important step for people of all ages. Let’s look at some simple ways you can get closer to achieving a healthier heart in just 30 days.
Increase your Activity Level
According to the American Heart Association, the most recent guidelines suggest that adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. This includes physical activities like walking, yoga, golf, water aerobics, bicycling at 5 to 9 mph and dancing. Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week will yield the same results. Vigorous activities include things like running, cycling, weight training, and sports such as tennis, basketball or soccer. Regardless of your current level of activity, even a slight upturn can yield quick results in terms of your heart health.
Make Better Food Choices
There are a number of dietary changes that can quickly help your heart function more effectively. Eliminating foods high in saturated fats that elevate LDL cholesterol can help you avoid a plaque buildup in your arteries. Try to limit saturated fats to 5 percent or less of your total calories (divide your weight by 12 to get the daily total limit in grams). Many people who are in search of better heart health are gravitating towards the Mediterranean diet.
This diet includes limited amounts of meat and emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as whole grains, fresh produce, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption. People who adhere to this diet are proving less likely to develop heart disease and other chronic illnesses. What underlies this trend is that the foods encouraged by the diet help ensure you get the right balance of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s.
Increase Your Omega 3’s
In the past our diets were rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, keeping us close to the goal ratio of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s at a 2:1 ratio. As Americans moved towards a more convenience culture our diets shifted drastically. Now many of the foods we consume are loaded with Omega 6’s, which can lead to heart disease. You can help to stop the imbalance of your Omega 3:6 ratio by taking a daily Omega 3 supplement. Choosing a pharmaceutical grade omega will help your heart stay in peak shape.
Drop a Few Pounds
While carrying around a few extra pounds doesn’t seem dangerous, for people at risk for heart disease it can be a hidden danger. Being overweight is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and studies have shown that in the US, 69 percent of adults are either overweight or obese. In overweight adults with cardiovascular risk factors, losing just 3-5 percent of their total body weight can lead to significant improvement in heart health.
Cigarette smoking is the most prevalent, yet preventable causes of premature death in the United States. Smoking takes more than 440,000 lives each year in our country alone. Studies have shown that cigarette smokers are at a much higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries. This buildup is a major contributor to the high number of deaths attributed to smoking, because it leads to coronary heart disease. Quitting smoking may seem impossible but with so many options for support during the process it is a more reachable goal than ever before.
Take a High Quality Multi-Vitamin
Despite our best efforts we may not always get all of the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need through what we eat. While our diet should be our biggest source of nourishment, sometimes we fall short. Supplementing our diet with a high-quality, well-rounded multi-vitamin can help ensure that we get enough of the nutrients we need for optimal heart health. A multi-vitamin rich in vitamins C and D, as well as plant sterols, coenzyme Q12, lycopene and niacin will support and promote heart heath. Just be sure to find a multi-vitamin that is of the highest quality with the best ingredients available to help support your cardiac health.
Know Your Numbers
While this step requires a trip to your doctor, it will be a trip well worth scheduling. By understanding these three numbers and knowing where you stack up you can vastly improve the health of your heart.
- Check to see if your blood pressure is at or below the goal level of 120/80. If your blood pressure is elevated you can take a number of simple steps like decreasing your sodium intake to lower your number. A helpful hint: the steps you take to improve your heart health will also lower your blood pressure naturally. It’s a two for one benefit!
- Make sure your blood sugar is in the normal range. Your fasting blood glucose level should be below 100 milligrams/deciliter and your A1C should be below 5.7.
- Your total cholesterol should be lower than 200 milligrams/deciliter for prime heart health.
The American Heart Association has stated that by engaging in efforts to improve your heart heath, the cardiovascular health of Americans could improve by 20 percent by the year 2020. This would lead to a reduction in the number of deaths from cardiovascular-related diseases and strokes. By taking these simple steps you can improve your overall cardiovascular health is as little as 30 days. Once you start on this renewed path of health, you will be surprised how much the trend takes hold. Not only will your heart benefit, so will the rest of your mind and body.