The human heart is an astonishing organ. For every minute, it continuously pumps about five quarts of blood throughout the body. Furthermore, the average heart beats about 1,00,000 times a day. I hope now you understand why it is important to have a strong, healthy heart.
Cardiovascular disease is found to be the leading cause of mortality in India and other developed countries like America. One out of every four deaths is caused by heart disease in such countries. Being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease can take an emotional toll, affecting the quality of one’s life.
Studies prove that about 80% of heart diseases are preventable. It can be prevented by changing the diet and lifestyle. While heart-strengthening exercises and weight control are crucial to maintaining a healthy heart, what you eat can matter just as much.
Also, Read – What are the Signs of an Unhealthy Heart?
Exercise and diet go hand-in-hand to keep your heart stronger. In fact, along with exercising, a heart-healthy diet may reduce your risk of heart disease by 80%.
Thus, in this article, we’ll see 2 of the simplest yet most effective ways to have a strong heart – Diet, and Exercise.
Best Foods For Strong Heart
Are you wondering what foods heal your heart? In truth, no specific food can make your heart healthy. Therefore, a balanced dietary pattern is more important than specific foods. Whether you’re looking to make your heart stronger, have already been diagnosed with heart disease, or planning to maintain good cardiovascular health, these heart-healthy diet tips can help you better manage these conditions and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
1. Choose Healthy Fats
If you’re more concerned about your heart health, the first step you should take is to replace the bad fats with good fats. You can give up on trans fat and limit saturated fats in your diet. This is because trans fats raise your bad cholesterol level (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol level (HDL), thereby clogging your arteries and increasing the risk of developing heart disease. Trans fats can be found in fried food and any food which has “partially hydrogenated oil” as one of its ingredients.
2. Focus On Fibre
A diet rich in fibre can lower bad cholesterol and provide nutrients that help protect against heart disease. Furthermore, fibre offers various other advantages like helping you lose weight, maintaining gut flora, and getting the energy for exercise. Imbalanced gut flora is linked to heart disease.
3. Go Easy On The Salt
Having a diet high in salt can likely increase your blood pressure, which in turn can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. The recommended maximum daily intake of salt is just 5 grams for adults.
4. Fill Up On Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fibre, which are crucial to keeping your heart healthy. Some fruits and vegetables are a rich source of soluble fibre, which helps in lowering your cholesterol level. Most beans and pulses, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, high fibre fruits like guava, fig, apple, pear, and sapodilla can help in maintaining a healthy heart.
5. Go For More Fish
Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered to be specifically beneficial for your heart. The intake of omega-3s by eating fish can help in lowering the risk of abnormal heartbeats and also slows down the growth of plaque in the arteries. Oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, and tuna, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t eat fish you can include spinach, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds in your diet.
6. Choose Whole Grains
Studies show that eating whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30%. Whole grains help in reducing cholesterol and controlling the blood sugar level. The soluble fibre in whole grains controls the appetite and helps in reducing weight. A few of the whole grains you must include in your diet are oats, sago, broken wheat, barley, ragi, bajra, and maize.
7. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, which is not loaded with sugar and saturated fat is definitely a heart-healthy treat. Dark chocolate has abundant disease-fighting antioxidants. Studies have also proved that people who consume dark chocolate have strong cardiovascular systems, with improved blood circulation, and lower cholesterol, and blood pressure levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
Best Exercises To Strengthen Your Heart
Being physically active is another major step towards a healthy heart. Your heart needs exercise like any other muscle. Many of you might have experienced a heart attack already or might be at risk of developing one. One of the most common questions that prevail among such people is “Can you strengthen a weak heart muscle?”, The answer is YES. There are various heart-strengthening exercises that you can follow to make your heart stronger.
3 Types Of Exercises For A Healthy Heart
1. Aerobic Exercise
A few examples of aerobic exercise include jogging, brisk walking, swimming, and cycling. During aerobic exercise, you breathe harder and faster, increasing your heart rate, which in turn maximises the amount of oxygen in the blood. Aerobic exercise also helps in lowering blood pressure, controlling blood glucose levels, and reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes.
2. Resistance Training Or Strengthening
Examples of resistance training exercises include free weights like dumbbells, resistance bands, push-ups, and squats. This type of exercise helps in improving muscle strength and endurance. It helps in reducing body fat and building lean muscle. Studies have proved that combining aerobic and resistance training exercises can help in lowering bad cholesterol and improving good cholesterol.
Stretching is another important type of exercise that helps in maintaining a healthy heart. Stretching exercises like yoga can have a direct impact on your heart health as it can reduce arterial stiffness that is linked to high blood pressure and stroke. It also improves musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from muscular issues. Stretching also allows you to perform aerobic and resistance exercises with ease.
How Often Should You Exercise?
It is recommended that you exercise at least 150 minutes per week, which amounts to 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. When you are new to exercise, you can start with moderate exercise for a few minutes a day and then increase the timing and intensity gradually.
Precautions While Exercising
Before starting with your exercise, consult with your cardiologist. Also, while exercising, if you experience any pain or pressure in your upper chest, have trouble breathing, feel exhausted, or have an uneven heart rate, seek immediate medical help.
Quick Glance On Other Lifestyle Changes To Keep Your Heart Healthy
- Practice good dental hygiene
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Get good sleep
- Keep stress under control
- Move more, don’t sit for too long
- Have a check on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Lose weight
- Take care of your mental health
- Don’t miss on your annual checkups
A Word From Fine Fettle
Diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are the key to a healthy heart. Years of wrong decisions can take their toll, but you can reverse your actions to reduce your risk of heart disease and make it stronger. It’s all about the choices you make that determine your heart health. The best way to attack a heart attack is to prevent one from happening. Now is your chance. Make better diet choices treat your body right, and your heart will thank you for it.