What do you know about heart health? It’s a worthwhile muscle to get to know. It not only keeps you alive, it works really hard in doing so.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, every minute your heart pumps approximately five to six gallons of blood across a network of arteries, veins and capillaries more than 60,000 miles long. That’s long enough to go around the globe twice. To boot, the average heart beats 60 to 100 times a day according to the American Heart Association (AHA). If you do the calculations, your heart beats approximately 100,000 times and moves about 2,000 gallons of blood in adults each day. Wow, right!?
But just like a car, our hearts run into maintenance and mechanical issues, too. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. According to AHA, it accounts for nearly one in every four deaths in the United States.
Sure, certain aspects of heart disease are hereditary. But, there are also many preventative measures we can take to support heart health. Here are just a few:
Get enough exercise.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests that to reap major health benefits from exercise, we should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. For even more benefits, double this number to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week or 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. The more you do, the more you will benefit. But the Institute does note, that even doing 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week will reap benefits. Something is better than nothing.
Eat for heart health.
Eating healthy is critical to heart health and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Although cholesterol levels can creep up with age, what we eat and our weight can affect our cholesterol levels. Key to managing cholesterol and heart health is eating enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults consume 1.5-2 cups of fruit per day and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily. Foods high in dietary fiber have also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Seafood or foods rich in essential fatty acids are also recommended for a healthy heart. Likewise, monounsaturated fats (think almonds or olive oil) are known to lower bad cholesterol and help raise good or HDL cholesterol. Although you should still avoid saturated or trans fats. To maintain level blood pressure be sure to watch your sodium intake.
Take a Multivitamin
According to studies, actually eating enough fruits and veggies may seem easy, but in reality most of us miss the mark. A recent CDC study found that 76% of adults don’t eat enough fruit and 87% of adults don’t eat enough veggies. Hence, a multivitamin is the safety net that can help make sure your body gets all of the vitamins and minerals it needs on a daily basis. Look for a multi that includes the B vitamins (including Niacin), vitamin K1, CoQ10 and magnesium, which all have been shown to play a role in cardiovascular health.
Control Your Blood Sugar.
According to World Health Association, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. For the average child, that’s 32 teaspoons. Meanwhile, the American Heart Association recommends we eat no more than 9.5 teaspoons per day. High sugar intake can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lead to diabetes. Recent studies note that limiting sugar is more important than cutting sodium when it comes to supporting healthy blood pressure. This means, you'll have to watch your junk food and soda intake, too. Studies show drinking one can of soda on average a day, can increase your risk of heart attack by 20 percent over those who rarely drink soda.
And, of course … don’t smoke and drink coffee and alcohol in moderation.