Five Simple Ways to Love Your Heart

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Keep your heart healthy! What better way to show your love for your family, friends—and yourself—than to take steps to keep your heart healthy. Just a few simple changes in your lifestyle can go a long way to keeping your heart at it’s healthy best.

1. Choose a Mediterranean Diet

Experts agree that a Mediterranean Diet is optimal for heart health. This diet consists of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry, and red wine in moderation. It is low in saturated fat and contains no trans fats (hydrogenated oil found in packaged cookies, crackers, margarine, chips, pastries, etc.) Red meat is eaten infrequently, and refined sugar and processed foods are avoided.

The Mediterranean diet can also be a great tool for weight loss. It’s high in fiber, promotes omega-3 thermogenesis (heat release following the metabolism of fat), and contains no added sugar.

Quick Tip: Aim to include seafood in your menu twice a week, particularly fatty fish like salmon.

2. Enjoy alcohol in moderation

In terms of heart health, research is ongoing regarding the potential benefits or dangers of drinking alcohol. The American Heart Association recommends that if you don’t drink, you shouldn’t start. If you do, moderation is key. Consider these guidelines:

Drink just before or with your evening meal. Aim for no more than one drink for a woman, or two drinks for a man per day.

Quick tip: One drink equals 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of spirits.

3. Step up your exercise

Taking 10,000 steps each day has become a popular exercise goal. And it’s a great one! Many studies have shown that people who complete 10,000 steps a day experience very real health benefits ranging from lowered blood pressure to improved glucose levels. Health care practitioners, however, emphasize that any increase in exercise is beneficial.

Make a plan to reach 10,000 steps a day—one step at a time. If possible, purchase a pedometer. Track your steps for a few days and then make a goal to add 1,000 steps to that baseline. As you experience small successes, you will be motivated to keep going. When you experience health benefits—like increased energy—your new activity levels will soon become your new normal.

Quick Tip: To increase your steps per day, walk during your lunch break, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and walk in place while watching TV.

4. Catch some fish oil

Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and is clinically proven to support heart health.* In fact, the American Heart Association recommends 1,000 mg of the omega-3s EPA and DHA daily for heart health.

Because most people don’t consume enough omega-3s from healthy food sources, a high-quality fish oil supplement can be a great option for ensuring adequate intake.

Nordic Naturals is a leading brand that offers exceptionally pure omega-3 fish oil supplements in a variety of convenient delivery forms.

Quick Tip: Check the supplement facts panel to see how much of the omega-3s EPA and DHA the product contains.

5. Take charge of stress

Understanding your stress type, identifying your triggers, and learning new ways to manage your stress can go a long way in lessening the negative effects stress can have on your life, your loved ones, and your heart.

Do you get angry often, experience chronic anxiety, have panic attacks? Assess your reaction to everyday situations. You can retrain your mind to see daily stressors for what they are and you can learn to calm yourself down.

There are many relaxation techniques available today including meditation, yoga, visualization, exercise, and music. Breathing is a key component to many of these relaxation techniques, along with conscious intention and mindfulness to reset our switches! Even 10 minutes a day can do wonders.

Quick Tip: Share your cardiac makeover plans and successes with friends and family. Then tell a joke, share a smile, and laugh!

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Contributor: 

Michael Ozner, MD, FACC, FAHA

Michael Ozner, MD, FACC, FAHA, is a board-certified cardiologist and one of America’s leading advocates for heart disease prevention. He has authored several books including Heart Attack Proof and The Complete Mediterranean Diet.