Women tend to avoid thinking about their health and aging status unless it’s something they can see and acknowledge, and don’t like! We have no problem injecting our faces to get rid of fine lines, plumping our lips, and enhancing our bodies with implants to avoid sagging and aging on the outside, but we tend to avoid doing anything positive for our internal health. Unfortunately what looks good on the outside doesn’t mean things are good on the inside. Heart disease is a silent killer and the leading cause of death in women in the US, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to keep our hearts and bodies functioning healthy and optimally from the inside out. Why not start now, it is after all Heart Health Month! Here are 15 ways to keep your heart functioning optimally!
- Eat Avocado on Everything – avocados are full of monounsaturated fats, which are known for having heart health benefits including lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol levels. Add a half to your breakfast omelette, on top of a salad, blended in a smoothie or add guacamole to your favorites!
- Give into Dark Chocolate – dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and prevent blood clots. Go ahead have a square or two! Pick 70% or more dark cocoa; avoid milk chocolate which tends to be higher in sugar and lower on the polyphenol scale!
- Say No to Donuts – yeah they taste great but they’re full of sugar, trans and saturated fats and should be avoided at all costs. These fats stick to your artery walls like glue, building up over time. That also goes for any other foods that are deep fried and processed. #saynotofastfood
- Don’t Get Stressed – learn how to let go! Meditation is a good way to help you relax and move on from the stressors that have you down. Meditation has been shown to result in lower heart rate, reduced blood pressure and lower oxygen consumption. Those who practice meditation are less likely to have a heart attack.
- Have Sexy Time – sex can release feel good hormones into the blood that can help lower the stress response. It’s also a great way to do cardio – just sayin.
- Exercise Frequently – exercise has many benefits when it comes to your heart’s health; it lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow and keeps your weight down. Cardio is an important part of your exercise routine and it really doesn’t matter what type you do, as long as it elevates your heart rate. That means you should sweat!
- Cut Out Sugar – you might think fat in your diet is the cause of cholesterol, but in actuality its sugar! Sugar is stored as triglycerides, which can build up in the blood, blocking arteries. In fact, research showed that people who ate diets high in sugar had the lowest HDL or good cholesterol and the highest levels of triglycerides! Carbs in the diet should come from mostly fruit, vegetables, and non-starchy root vegetables. Try following a carb cycle plan.
- Dump Bad Habits – smoking can damage blood vessels causing a build-up of fatty material lining the arteries, this can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke! Just quit already!
- Drink Green Tea – tea is loaded in polyphenols and catechins which can prevent cell damage reduce inflammation and protect your heart! Higher intake of green tea has also been associated with significantly lower levels of LDL – the bad cholesterol and total cholesterol. It’s also been shown to reduce blood pressure, which might be the result of its theanine concentration. An amino acid found in green tea that has been shown to increase levels of GABA, serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters involved in mood and sleep.
- Have a Glass of Wine or Two – especially the red stuff, red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that can help protect against cholesterol build-up, reduce formation of blood clots, help raise HDL – the good cholesterol and may protect the lining of blood vessels. Go ahead have a glass or two.
- Eat More Fiber – a high fiber diet has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. High fiber diets can help lower cholesterol levels. Be sure to get at least 25 g of fiber in your diet per day. This can be from a variety of high fiber foods including fruit such as apples and berries, any kind of vegetable but particularly green veggies like broccoli and kale, as well as whole grains like oats or barley.
- Put the Salt Shaker Down – salt increases water retention in the body, when this happens it raises the body’s blood pressure; the higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart. The easiest way to cut your risk, don’t add salt to your food and avoid heavily salted foods – particularly processed fast foods.
- Eat More Fish – fish contains the active ingredient, omega-3, which can help reduce inflammation, and also help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol levels. Eat fish rich in omega-3, such as salmon and tuna. Other foods rich in omega-3 include walnuts, flax seed and chia seeds.
- Have Olives in Your Martinis – olives are a source of monounsaturated fat, but also a source of vitamin e, an antioxidant that has been shown to help protect the heart. Although they’re a great source of monounsaturated fat, they’re also high in salt. Limit to just a few, or instead of olives use olive oil on your salads and to cook with it.
- Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables – natural, fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy body and healthy heart. They deliver the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients we need to metabolize food and protect our heart. Avoid processed foods made with sugar, flour, preservatives and deadly trans fats at all costs.
Until next time…
Be Fierce & Rule the World,