Surprise! You don’t need to go on a crash diet or hit the gym every day, here’s what you and your loved ones must know (and follow) to have a healthy heart.
The Numbers to Watch
Cholesterol is the first thing you consider when you think of heart risk. But there are other things to watch out for if you want to reduce that risk. Here are the details:
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dl.
- LDL: Less than 100 mg/dl.
- HDL: women – above 50 mg/dl; men – above 40 mg/dl
- Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dl
- Fasting blood sugar: less than 100 mg/dl
- Blood pressure: below 120/80 mmHg
- BMI: less than 25
- Waistline: women – 89 cm or less; men – 102 cm or less
Learn to Manage Stress
Psychosocial stress is a known factor for heart disease. Long working hours increases your risk of heart disease. Stress increases your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen demand to your heart. Over time, emotional stress can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks. You are also more likely to develop heart disease if you are constantly worried, depressed and have no supportive social network.
Have a Healthy Lifestyle
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is your first line of defense against risk of developing heart problems and other diseases.
- Exercise is the best tool. Regular exercise is your best tool when it comes to preventing health diseases. According to studies, women who exercise at least three hours a week reduce their risk of a heart attack by at least 30 to 40%.Aerobic exercise pumps up the heart, lowers bad cholesterol while increasing the good ones, destroys triglycerides and prevents fat deposits from accumulating in your arteries. It also helps fight abdominal fat. No need to join a gym if you don’t want to; climbing stairs, walking at a brisk pace or doing housework can serve as your exercise when done regularly.
- Quit smoking. Breathe healthily, live happily. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the world. 90% of lung cancer patients developed their cancer because of smoking. Studies say that there are over 4,000 compounds in cigarette smoke, most of which are toxic that damage your cells and cause cancer.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
- Eat in moderation. You can still eat your favorite foods but in small amounts. Small frequent meals help increase metabolic rate and keep you in shape. Cereals and fruits are foods high in fiber and will help improve bowel movement.
- A diet low in fat is not necessarily a good diet. Studies show that a diet with emphasis on “good” fats (unsaturated) is better for your cardiovascular health than low-fat diets. Avoid foods that are rich in “bad” fats (unsaturated) and choose “good” fats in your every day cooking. Vegetable oils like Argan oil is rich in unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are good for the heart.
- Cut the soda from your diet, it adds up calories that can pile on the weight. Reduce carbohydrate intake. Breads, pasta and foods high in sugar are carbohydrate –rich foods.
Everyone needs to pay attention to their heart health, adults, children and teens alike. Knowledge is your best protection and it may even save your life.