Ok, so February is Heart Health month.
It’s also Black History month. But my recent relationship history is none of your business, so I’m going with heart health.
None of this information is going to be ground breaking. It’s all stuff that you’ve heard before. But sometimes we just need a little reminder. Just to get us back in the neighborhood of the straight & narrow. At least I do. I have these periods when I get super strict about diet, accomplish some goals, feel really good about life and my place in the world.
Then I drift.
It’s easy to drift. A little snack here. A 2nd glass of wine. Maybe stop for a mid-afternoon scoop of ice cream. Then the snack gets bigger, the 2nd glass becomes a 2nd bottle. The occasional scoop becomes a regular couple of scoops. With chocolate syrup. And whipped cream. And what could a maraschino cherry hurt. Now, every day, you’re washing down a chocolate sundae with a bottle of Berringer and a bag of potato chips.
Maybe that’s overstating it. And digressing. But you get my drift.
So, what are some basic guidelines to better heart health? Glad you asked…
- Quit smoking -there’s no better one-step way to improve your heart health than to quit smoking. I know, quitting is way, way easier said than done. But among the 49 hundred other reasons not to suck smoke into your lungs, smoking can cause your blood vessels to narrow and thicken. It also reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, which means, your heart has to work that much harder to get enough to your body and brain.
- Healthy eating – vegetables and fruits—Eat them daily. Leafy greens like spinach are packed with heart-healthy vitamin k and other good stuff, like antioxidants and fiber. Fruits and veggies deliver flavonoids, blood pressure-friendly potassium and magnesium and vitamin C. Eat more beans and legumes—This is mostly because of the fiber. But legumes are also high in protein and minerals but lack the saturated fat you’d find in meat-based protein sources. If you’re eating meat. ( and yes, I am) choose more lean protein. If you’re looking for an animal source of lean protein, think fish. Haddock, pollock and halibut are very, very low-fat sources of protein. But even the oily fish like tuna and salmon are good for your heart—because of the Omega -3 fatty acids they contain. Olive oil is a source of monounsaturated fat, which is another healthy fat. Olive oil also contains compounds called polyphenols that help maintain the delicate inner lining of your blood vessels which play a huge role in blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.
- Cut down on sugar and salt.– If your diet is high in salt, it’s likely that your blood pressure could be high, too – which means you have an increased risk of suffering from heart disease or stroke. Try not to use as much salt at the table and reduce how much you use in cooking. Also, keep an eye on food labels to see how much salt you’re eating in processed foods. Too much sugar, meanwhile, could lead to weight gain, which can raise your blood pressure and cause diabetes and heart disease. Duh, I know. But like I said, these are just reminders. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. Speaking of not getting your panties in a bunch…
- Reduce stress– If you’re under a lot of stress, you may be more likely to smoke, exercise less, and drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol – all of which are linked with heart problems.
- Activity– Activity, especially cardiovascular activity. Cardio, for short, is the rhythmic or repetitive motion of large muscle groups—think running, walking, biking, swimming or any number of in-place machines like treadmills or ellipticals. How does that help? As you engage in cardio, your heart circulates more oxygen rich blood to your muscles.It also widens your capillaries. Small blood vessels expand to rid muscles of carbon dioxide and lactic acid. People who exercise regularly and live a more active life are more likely to be able to maintain healthy blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol as well as weight. Get it? ( Got it) Good.
- Supplementation– You know I’m always going to advocate for this. You can try to eat healthier, but a good, reputable supplement can fill in the gaps in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy plus they supply a wide spectrum of other health benefits. CoQ-10 is another great choice. Your cells use CoQ-10 to help them produce cellular energy: it helps the mitochondria within your cells turn macronutrients from the foods you eat into ATP, which is the fuel currency your cells use to operate. Also, CoQ10 is also important to your brain and kidneys.
So, there’s a few tips. Keep your heart healthy. I hear it’s a bitch to get a replacement.