By Vicki Little
February is American Heart Health Month, so what better time than now to give your heart a little love and keep it healthy? We scheduled a check-up with a doctor — and even gathered second opinions — to come up with this list of five ways to keep your heart healthy.
1. The Basics: Exercise, eat well, get your yearly physicals, and follow your doctor’s advice. Dr. David L. Vastola recommends exercising three times a week if possible (or a cumulative of 3 hours for 20 minutes at a time), and maintaining a BMI of 30 or under. Dr. Vastola also warns that low levels of Omega 3 oils can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by 30 percent, and that sugar and insulin levels must be evaluated regularly. All of these can be done at your annual physical.
2. Watch what you eat: Dr. Steve Feyrer-Melk, who practices at Optimal Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center in Arizona, recommends eating fish twice per week (those Omega 3’s again), checking labels for little or no saturated fats, and cutting down on sugar. In addition, he recommends spicing your food with cumin since it is linked to cholesterol and weight loss. He adds — and this is my personal favorite — eat some dark chocolate! Seven to 10 grams per day, and the darker the better!
3. Use technology: Just as you would use an app to monitor weight loss, there are now apps to track blood pressure so you are more aware and in control of your health.
4. Maintain good oral hygiene: Scary but true. Failing to floss can result in a build-up of bacteria, which causes inflammation. This inflammation can result in different complications, such as arterial narrowing, that may contribute to heart attacks. (Doctors Mark Helm, Matthew Nejad, and Kyle Stanley)
5. Find the right mindset: Almost all the doctors mentioned that how you handle stress and how much downtime you get during the day can also impact your heart — and more than you may imagine! Take the time each day to unwind and calm down your mind and body. Be sure you are getting enough sleep, and don’t let things fester. Try to maintain a positive outlook and keep negativity out of your life.
Do you have any other recommendations to keep your heart healthy?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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