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Tips for a healthy heart

The lifestyle we lead and the choices that we make in relation to our diet effects the well-being of our heart. There are certain things like family history or age that may pose risk to the health of the heart and cannot be controlled, but there are some key steps that can prevent heart disease.

  • Healthy Diet: A heart-healthy diet is low in Trans fats, refined sugars and high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acid. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can help control weight and blood pressure whereas eating fish, such as salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids will lower the risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Fiber: Soluble fibers are found in foods, such as fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes which help in reducing cholesterol levels and heart disease. Soluble fibers also reduce blood pressure and inflammation within blood vessels.
  • Exercise: Exercise strengthens the heart and increases its ability to circulate blood throughout the body. Exercise helps lowering blood pressure, reduces stress on the heart and it also increases the availability of oxygen and nutrients to the heart tissues.
  • Lose Weight: Being overweight puts extra pressure on the heart, increasing the risk of heart conditions. Obesity leads to high cholesterol, high blood pressure which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the basic necessities for a healthy heart today.
  • Cholesterol: Monitoring and controlling the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is another way to keep your healthy. LDL cholesterol is considered "bad" cholesterol and found in foods high in saturated fats and Trans fats. LDL cholesterol calcifies the arteries causing buildup of arterial plaque which in turn limits blood flow in the body, making you a candidate for heart disease. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is the good form that helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. So for a healthy heart it is advisable to include HDL-promoting foods.
  • Avoid Smoking: Smoking has a negative effect on your heart as the toxins in cigarette smoke increases risk for blood clots, reduce stamina and ability to exercise thus increasing your blood pressure and lowering your good HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Drink in moderation: In moderation alcohol increases good cholesterol making it beneficial to the heart and keeps it healthy. However, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • Reduce Stress: Stress is a common culprit for heart problems as it elevates blood pressure which in turn takes a toll on the heart. It is advised to practice meditation, yoga, and other techniques that help you relax.
  • Less Salt Intake: High salt intake increases blood pressure, eventually leading to heart conditions. When sodium accumulates in the blood, it attracts water, which increases the blood volume. In this situation the heart has to work harder to keep blood circulation through the blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure.
  • Whole Grains: Whole grains contain the entire kernel and consuming whole grains improves heart health and lowers heart disease risk. Eating whole grains lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) whereas eating refined grains cholesterol and triglycerides.