(<3 your heart)
Heart health is important for men of all ages. Smoking and drinking alcohol are well known risk factors of heart disease, but what else can you do to support a healthy heart?
Here’s our 10 why-not-try’s for keeping your heart healthy.
1. Get Moving
Exercise helps to decrease body weight and contributes to increased levels of good HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. Increased exercise also helps to strengthen the muscles of the heart and blood vessels, making sure blood is pumped efficiently around the body. As being overweight can also be a factor in the development of heart conditions, regular exercise can burn extra calories to help you maintain or reach a healthy weight.
2. Feeling Fishy
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help to protect against heart disease through decreasing blood triglycerides (a risk factor for coronary artery disease), lowering blood pressure, and reducing blood clotting. Try to eat 3 portions of fatty fish per week, including salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring. You could also talk to your healthcare provider about omega-3 supplements to safeguard your dietary intakes.
3. Take it Outdoors
20 minutes of UV exposure from the sun can increase the body’s production of nitric oxide, which helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Careful moderate exposure to sunlight can exert health protective effects at minimal risk of other conditions, such as skin cancer.
4. Go Nuts
The unsaturated fats in nuts help to lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol, contributing to improved health of the lining of arteries and lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease. Heart healthy nuts include almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. Keep in mind that the health benefits of nuts could be cancelled out if they’re covered in chocolate, sugar, or salt, so be sure to make heart-conscious choices when choosing which nuts to buy.
5. Feel the Love
Men with a low frequency of sexual activity have increased risk of cardiovascular disease, with men who have sex at least twice a week less likely to have a heart attack. Men in supportive, intimate relationships may have decreased risk due to lower stress and increased social support. Conditions such as erectile dysfunction are also early indicators of potentially serious heart conditions, so make sure you get yourself checked out if you experience any new or unusual symptoms
6. Laugh out Loud
Research suggests that laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in the arteries, and raise levels of good HDL cholesterol. Laughing increases your heart rate and encourages deep breathing, improving muscular oxygen supply and vascular function. Laughter also releases feel-good endorphins, known for boosting mood and lowering stress.
7. Go Bananas for Potassium
A CDC study found that consuming an extra 1,000 milligrams of potassium every day can reduce blood pressure. Foods containing high potassium include sweet potatoes (540 milligrams per medium baked potato), yellowfin tuna (450 milligrams per 3-ounce serving) and bananas (420 milligrams per banana)
8. Get Spicy
Spices may have heart protective mechanisms. Spices are rich in antioxidants, shown to protect against tissue damage and inflammation. A study has claimed that consuming chilli peppers more than 4 times a week can cut risk of fatal heart attack or stroke by 23%. Other spices shown to exert protective effects include curcumin, garlic, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, and coriander.
9. Treat Yourself
Dark chocolate is a rare example of a food that tastes great and is good for you (in moderation). Scientists believe that dark chocolate has protective benefits against atherosclerosis, a risk factor of heart attack and stroke. Cocoa and dark chocolate products are rich in polyphenol plant compounds, which help to increase nitric oxide production and decrease inflammation in the arteries.
10. Trust the Professionals
Even if you feel fine, you should still see your healthcare provider for regular health check-ups to help avoid health problems in the future. Checks for blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol can help to identify potentially significant issues early and give you the best chance of receiving good health management.