According to the CDC in the United States, one in every four deaths  is related to heart disease. This isn’t very different when we are talking about global statistics. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 32%  of the population has some sort of cardiovascular disease.
In this article, we will explore the definition of heart disease and the top 10 ways to keep your heart healthy.
Heart disease is not only one ailment. It represents a variety of disorders related to the heart and vascular system. There are different types of heart disease:
- Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
- Atherosclerosis (hardening arteries)
- Cardiomyopathy (heart’s muscles get weaker or stiffer)
- Coronary artery disease (plaque built-up)
- Congenital heart disease (born at birth)
Some of the most common factors related to heart disease are smoking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits, and high alcohol consumption.
There is a vast range of studies correlating exercise with improving heart health. Combining strength training and cardiovascular work is ideal for keeping your heart strong. The optimal exercise amount is 150 minutes of light or moderate activity per week.
Even if you constantly exercise, but you spend the rest of the day sitting down. This can also have negative consequences on your heart. Thus, it is crucial to have an active pause every 30-60 minutes. Place some alarms or reminders, stand up and walk around your desk for a couple of minutes.
2. Stop Smoking
Smoking increases your chances of heart disease. Chemicals found in cigarettes can cause the blood to thicken, putting you at risk of a blood clot. It also causes a long-term rise in your blood pressure.
If you consider quitting smoking, make sure that you do it in a stressless moment in your life. Start exercising, have a healthy diet, and make sure that you get enough sleep during the day. Additionally, seek support since it can be a challenging process to go through.
3. Reduce Stress
Studies suggest that keeping high levels of stress can promote heart disease. When we are stressed, our cortisol levels rise, promoting an increase in cholesterol levels, sugar levels, triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
Thus, finding ways to deal with stress will always be crucial for having a healthy heart. Practicing meditation or deep breathing is the most common and efficient way to deal with stress. You can also try yoga or light walking.
4. Manage Your Chronic Illnesses
Obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all illnesses that put you at risk of developing heart disease. Hence, it is vital to have them controlled. Make sure that you constantly have check-ups with your healthcare provider and take the medication they provide.
For overweight people, losing only 5-10% of your total body weight can help you control your blood pressure and sugar levels. This can be achieved through a healthy diet and constant exercise.
5. Eat More Fruits and Veggies
A healthy heart diet is full of nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables. Plant-based diets have been linked to a decrease in heart disease. Thanks to the fiber and the antioxidants it provides, you can decrease inflammation in the body, which leads to a reduction in heart disease. Also, a diet high in potassium can lower high blood pressure.
Remember that each color in fruits and veggies has different nutrients and antioxidants. That is why it is essential to have as many colors in your diet as possible.
Also Read: Health Benefits of Red Fruits and Vegetables.
6. Increase Healthy Fats
Saturated fats, which are often found in animal products when eaten in large quantities, can lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease. Some sources of saturated fats are mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, and fatty tissue from meats.
Unsaturated fats, typically found in plant products, are better for your heart. Most of them are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body. Thus, make sure to add more healthy fats to your diet like avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, and salmon.
7. Add More Whole Grains
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients, which are essential components that your body needs. Instead of having refined grains, make sure to have whole grains. For example, switch it to brown rice or lentils instead of white rice.
A higher intake of fiber has been linked to reducing heart disease.
8. Reduce Sugar Consumption
Those with a higher sugar consumption tend to have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and liver disease. WHO recommends having no more than 10% of your total daily calories from simple sugars (table sugar, syrups, honey, maple, and agave). This is, on average consuming 4-5 teaspoons per day.
While some might want to remove all sugar drastically, the best results are seen when you do it slowly. For example, if you put one teaspoon of sugar into your coffee, next time, try with ¾ of a teaspoon until you add none.
9. Drink in Moderation
Heavy drinking doesn’t provide any benefits to the body. The molecule can increase the inflammation in your body, increasing the chance of heart disease.
While some types of alcohol are suitable to have occasionally (like wine due to its high antioxidant capacity), it is better to avoid it or consume it in moderation. The general recommendation is to have one glass for women and two drinks for men.
10. Take A Supplement For Heart Health
Finally, if you are already making the changes above but still want an extra boost to your heart health, you can always take a supplement. A natural astaxanthin supplement can help you reduce inflammation in your body, reducing your chances of heart disease.
Also Read: Astaxanthin: Top Sources and Benefits
The Bottom Line
An integrative and holistic approach should be considered when promoting a healthy heart lifestyle. Exercise, decreasing alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, stress management,and a healthy diet are essential components.
Ensure that you are eating whole-natural products, lean protein, and healthy fats in your diet (like avocado, nuts, and seeds). Finally, if you feel that you are not getting enough nutrients through your diet, you can always supplement with a blend of antioxidants to keep your heart healthy.