7 Daily Habits for a Healthier Heart - Deepstash
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Eat fish twice a week

Eat fish twice a week

Fish is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and many vitamins and minerals. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Eating at least two servings of fish a week could reduce the risk of heart disease.” They recommend consuming fatty fish, like wild-caught salmon, twice per week. However, it’s important to avoid fish high in mercury: swordfish; shark; king mackerel; tilefish (golden bass); bigeye tuna; marlin; orange roughy; and bluefish.

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Limit saturated fats and trans fats

Limit saturated fats and trans fats

Saturated fats are found in animal products, including red meat and dairy, while trans fats are man-made fats created when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil. Both saturated fats and trans fats raise the risk of heart disease and stroke by altering blood lipid levels.

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To limit your intake of saturated fat:

  • Reduce the amount of meat you eat. Choose lean cuts (such as trimmed chicken breasts) or remove visible fat from meats before cooking them. Opt for fish instead of red meat at least twice a week.
  • Replace some of the meat in your diet with plant-based alternatives.
  • Avoid processed meat like sausage, bacon, and lunchmeat

Trans fats are found naturally in some foods, such as meat and dairy products, but also in some processed foods. Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, raise the amount of “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood while lowering amounts of “good” HDL cholesterol. Trans fat also increases inflammation in blood vessels, thereby contributing to the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

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Choose healthy monounsaturated fats

Choose healthy monounsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats are abundant in olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and avocados. These fats reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels. They’re considered “good” fats because they help lower the risk of heart disease.

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Choose whole grains over refined grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber and can help you feel full for longer. They’re also good sources of B vitamins, important for energy metabolism and heart health. Avoid refined grains, like white bread and white flour. To make refined grains, manufacturers strip whole grains of their fiber and nutrients. The lack of fiber leads to blood sugar spikes that aren’t healthy for your heart.

The soluble fiber in whole grain foods also lowers cholesterol by binding to bile acids and carrying them out of the body before they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Avoid packaged foods that are processed and contain added sugar and salt. The American Heart Association recommends that most adults get no more than 2,300 milligrams per day (that’s about 1 teaspoon).

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Eat foods rich in potassium and magnesium

Eat foods rich in potassium and magnesium

Potassium and magnesium are essential minerals for heart health. Potassium is abundant in fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, nuts, and seeds are rich sources of magnesium. Potassium can lower blood pressure by reducing the stress on your arteries caused by sodium (salt). Magnesium has many benefits for heart health. It helps maintain healthy blood pressure and reduces insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Plus, magnesium is important for maintaining a healthy heart rhythm.

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Maintain a healthy weight and waist size

Maintain a healthy weight and waist size

Staying a healthy weight is important to your health, but also maintaining a healthy waist size. The body mass index (BMI) is used to estimate whether someone has an ideal weight and height ratio. However, it doesn’t account for muscle mass or fat in the abdominal area, which has a stronger effect on heart disease than BMI.

Don’t just weigh yourself, also measure your waist size and keep tabs on it. Research shows that having a waist size of 40 inches or greater for men and 35 inches and over for women is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

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Exercise most days of the week

One of the best ways to improve your heart health is to exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking or cycling) on most days of the week. If you are new to exercising, start slowly and gradually increase the length and duration of your workouts. You can start with as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise daily and gradually build up to a higher intensity and duration. Aerobic exercise helps develop stamina, too.

Do more “incidental” movements. Get up and walk around and stretch, so you aren’t sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Prolonged sitting reduces insulin sensitivity and affects blood lipids in a way that’s harmful to cardiovascular health.

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CURATOR'S NOTE

Life better (probably longer) with healthier heart

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