A healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet are both critical to preventing and fighting cardiovascular disease. There are some simple things that you can implement now, before any issues arise, that can drastically reduce your risk of heart disease. If you already suffer from heart problems, a change in diet and lifestyle has shown to reverse some risk factors. Consult with your doctor prior to making any major lifestyle changes. Some of these lifestyle changes include:
If you smoke, stop!
When you smoke, your arteries tighten, making your heart have to work harder to do its job. Smoking also increases blood pressure and can cause irregular heart patterns. Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of heart disease. While it may be difficult to quit, doing so will be much easier than living with chronic heart problems in the future.
When you consider the job of the heart, getting exercise is a “no brainer”. The heart functions like a pump, transporting blood and oxygen throughout your entire body, which keeps you alive. Your heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle in your body, it needs to be utilized to gain strength and get healthier. Exercise helps to keep arteries and vessels flexible which allows for good blood flow, and it helps to regulate healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Lastly, exercise contributes to a healthy weight. Obesity contributes to heart disease so working towards healthy weight management by means of diet and exercise is recommended to reduce risks and stay heart healthy.
What you consume plays a direct role in your overall health, including heart health. Your diet can impact your risk of heart disease. For those of you who cringed at the word diet, it’s not as hard as you may think. There is no perfect formula, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a healthy food intake while avoiding certain foods can have long term health benefits for your heart. Remember that consistency is key and a gradual shift to a healthier lifestyle can go a long way. You don’t have to completely change your diet overnight.
Certain foods directly impact your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure which are all contributing factors to heart issues. Try incorporating some of the suggestions below into your diet while avoiding foods high in saturated fats, sugars, refined carbs and salt. These things are okay in moderation if your overall diet focuses on nutrient rich foods high in vitamins, minerals, fibers and antioxidants.
- Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fibers. Leafy green vegetables in particular (Kale, Spinach, etc.) are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and are strongly associated with a decreased risk in heart disease.
- Whole grains contain lots of fiber which not only makes you feel full so helps with weight management, but they also are known to improve blood cholesterol levels.
- Healthy fats such as avocados and almonds.
- Fish/Fish oil. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, have shown to reduce blood triglycerides and improve artery function and decrease blood pressure.
- Nuts and seeds
- Replace red meats, which are high in fats and cholesterol and can clog arteries, with lean proteins. Lean proteins include things like fish, beans, poultry, nuts, etc.
Food related risk factors can be managed and help to prevent heart disease. As you make your daily food choices, shift your patterns towards these healthy recommendations, take note of a target calorie intake for your particular goals, and adjust these eating suggestions to your own personal preferences. The goal is for these food patterns to become a new part of your lifestyle rather than a temporary diet.
If you or a loved one suffer from heart disease or believe you are at risk of heart disease, do not hesitate to reach out to our team at CT Cardio. Dr. Corwin Thomas is a board certified interventional cardiologist that offers weight management programs and on site cardiac testing along with an array of other services. Contacting us is your next step to getting, and staying, heart healthy!