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How’s your heart doing?
Heart health is a critical aspect of overall well-being, but unfortunately, many diseases and conditions can have a negative effect on the heart, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, or coronary artery disease.
Heart issues can lead to an array of complications and long-term health concerns, including stroke, dementia, and diabetes.
However, there are some easy ways that you can take to support your heart health and live your best life without changing your entire lifestyle.
Swap 20 Minutes of Social Media for Movement
Come on—we all do it. How many hours are you wracking up on your phone each day?
We love videos of cats doing cute things as much as the next person, but a sedentary lifestyle that's common with extended periods of sitting and scrolling on social media can lead to poor heart health.
And even if you're checking your phone for five minutes here and there, take that time aside and put it towards moving your body.
Regular physical activity supports good cardiovascular health, so rather than spending 20 minutes on your phone or laptop, take a walk around the block or do some stretches in your living room. The cat videos will be there when you get back.
Reduce Sodium and Add Flavor
High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure, which puts additional strain on the heart. And unfortunately, the American diet is on average high in sodium.
Make an effort to reduce your salt intake by avoiding processed foods and adding sauces and seasonings. Try not to put salt on the dinner table before eating so you aren't tempted to add more.
Reducing the takeout and going out to eat can help too, as dishes at restaurants are largely unregulated in terms of ingredients and you can't be sure how much is in your order. Food prepping for the week can make it less tempting to go out.
If you like to cook, discover new spices and flavors that you can add to a dish while cutting back the sodium.
Where you would normally add a bunch of salt to a recipe, cut down the amount you use. Instead, use fresh herbs and spices like garlic and turmeric to add flavor to your dishes.
Swap In Plant-Based Once a Day
Ditching animal-based proteins (like beef, pork, and eggs) for plant-based alternatives like beans, legumes, or tofu can help improve heart health too. That's because plant-based foods are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than animal proteins.
Saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for heart health, as they can increase your LDL cholesterol levels and clog up your arteries.
Swapping in plant-based proteins once a day is an easy way to support your heart health. Try adding chickpeas to a salad instead of chicken, or using plant-based crumbles instead of beef on Taco Night.
And again, just like with fruits and veggies, it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing—start by swapping out one meal item a day for something plant-based and go from there. There are so many options now!
If you're an absolute carnivore and the switch feels too hard, try starting out with cutting red meat and swapping it for fish or chicken a couple of times a week, which are meat options lower in cholesterol and saturated fat.
If you're struggling with ideas of what to make for dinner, try looking up some recipes online that focus on using mainly plant ingredients. We have some recipes here in our blog.
Supplements for Heart Health
Even if you are eating a balanced diet, taking additional supplements is a good idea to consider with your medical professional. It's quick, easy to do, and relatively cost-effective.
There are several supplements that can support heart health in the long run:
- Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine and other foods, supports a lower risk of heart disease
- CoQ10 is an antioxidant that supports energy production & healthy cell function, including red blood cells
- Magnesium promotes lower, more regulated blood pressure levels
- Calcium promotes strong & healthy bones while also supporting your heart
Your heart health is important and there are many steps you can take to support it that don't feel like an overhaul of your entire lifestyle.
No matter what changes you make—big or small—think of it as an investment in yourself. It's never too late to start taking care of yourself.
Aim for a balanced diet, more movement and less tech, getting plenty of fruits & veggies, switching to plant-based meals once in a while, and talking to your doctor about supplements.
Remember, small changes add up over time and your heart will thank you for taking the necessary steps to protect it.