8 Steps to Better Cardiovascular Health
The human body is an amazing biological machine, and at its core is the heart, which delivers oxygen-rich blood throughout the body via an intricate network of blood vessels. Under normal circumstances, the heart does its work as usual, involuntarily pumping blood according to the rhythm that evolution has perfected for tens of thousands of years. However, the cardiovascular system—also known as the circulatory system—is also often affected by cardiovascular diseases. This class of illnesses is the leading cause of death in the world, causing upwards of 30% of total global deaths each year.
The good news is that about 9 in 10 cardiovascular diseases are preventable. Get to know about some of the things that you can do in order to have better cardiovascular health by reading our list below. Many of these tips are not new, but hopefully, reading about them once more will help you make the necessary changes to your lifestyle, diet, and daily activities.
Include more nuts in your diet
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts are like little power packs of nutrition, containing numerous vitamins, minerals, antioxidant compounds, and plant sterols. Nuts are also rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower you bad cholesterol levels. This is good since high bad cholesterol levels can cause plaque to build up in your blood vessels—causing a condition known as atherosclerosis.
There are many ways for you to enjoy nuts daily, and these include using them as garnishing for your savory and sweet foods, eating them in nut butter form (choose the unsweetened variants), and drinking them as plant-based nut milks . Plant-based milks come in a lot of forms, but what you want are products that use the cold-milling process. This way, the nutrients and the natural creaminess of the nuts are preserved.
Eat more fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and tuna contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are a particular form of unsaturated fatty acids that help reduce your risk of heart disease. It helps lessen inflammation in the body (a risk factor for heart disease) while also decreasing triglyceride levels, lowering blood pressure, and reducing irregular heart rhythms. According to the Mayo Clinic, consuming at least two servings of fatty fish each week helps reduce a person’s risk for heart problems, particularly one that involves dying from sudden cardiac death. A caveat, though: make sure to choose fatty fish that are smaller and at the lower rungs of the food chain, since many big marine fish are known to be contaminated with mercury.
Avoid saturated fats
As opposed to unsaturated fats, saturated fats can raise the level of bad cholesterol in the body. To get around saturated fats, consume meat and whole-fat dairy in moderation, and avoid processed food products as much as possible. Plant-derived products that are also rich in saturated fats include palm oil, margarine, and coconut oil, milk and cream.
Make an effort to move every day
If you don’t have time or money to go to the gym, spend some time walking every day instead. Walking is a great form of exercise because not only is it a low-impact type of workout (good for your joints), it’s also very easy to commit to. Aim to walk at least 30 minutes each day. This way, you also get to burn as much as 200 calories that you wouldn’t be able to expend otherwise.
Whether it is influenza, pneumonia, or gum disease, infections are bad for your heart because of the inflammation they induce. Make sure to observe good hygiene practices like regularly washing your hands with soap and water and brushing your teeth after every meal to avoid contracting diseases. Also seek appropriate medical help, especially if you have longstanding inflammatory diseases such as gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Get enough sleep
There is a growing body of evidence that proper sleep is a big factor in maintaining good heart health. A study published in the European Heart Journal in 2011, for instance, noted that short sleepers had 48% increased risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease. Similarly, a 2015 Harvard study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology discovered that people who sleep too little are more likely to have early signs of heart disease. Take note, however, that sleeping too much is also a risk factor for developing heart and blood vessel diseases. The experts’ advice? Aim for 7 hours of sleep each day.
Ditch smoking completely
Smoking damages the lining of the arteries, which can cause fatty substances to build up on their walls. The narrowing of the arteries that result from the buildup can then lead not only to angina but also to heart attack and stroke.Moreover,not only is smoking tobacco bad for you heart, the evidence is also conclusive when it comes to the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Do yourself a favor, and just stop smoking.
Relax more, and be happier
Just as chronic and consistent feelings of anger, anxiety, and aggression have been scientifically proven to contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease, relaxing more often and simply trying tobe happy everyday have also been linked to better heart health and even improved longevity. Make it a point to take a moment each day to be grateful for your life and the small things that make it worthwhile.
With these tips in mind, you are now better informed about the simple things you can do on a daily basis to improve your cardiovascular health.