While some think of Valentine’s Day during February, we also need to remember that it is Heart Health month, too! According to WebMD, when your heart isn’t getting the proper care it needs, serious issues occur and can lead to “heart attacks and blockage of blood flow in the arteries.”
This month, we propose you look out for your heart! Some small ways you can do so include exercise, controlling cholesterol levels, limit stress levels and eat heart healthy foods.
Get your heart moving
It is no secret that movement and exercise is great for heart health. After all, cardio is one of the best ways to put your body (and heart) into motion! If you aren’t into fast-paced exercising, that’s okay – you can still find a type of exercise that fits your preferences and helps your heart.
John Hopkins Medicine lists aerobics as a great form of exercise to promote heart health. They explain that aerobics “improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate.” Some of these aerobic exercises include brisk walking, swimming and cycling/spin.
Aerobics is not the only type of exercise you are limited to when focusing on heart health! Believe it or not, strength/resistance training is also recommended by the American Heart Association.
Healthline explains that “when combined with aerobics, strength training will help to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol [which] can also reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.” Strength training includes using free weights (dumbbells, barbells), weight machines, resistance bands and body-resistances (sit-ups, squats).
While exercise is definitely one of the key methods to promoting heart health, you don’t need to be locked into one kind of routine. We recommend finding a type of exercise that fits your lifestyle and preferences best!
Control those cholesterol levels!
Cholesterol – we all have it, most of us have heard about it, and some of us actually know about it. Usually, cholesterol has a bad rap. However, there are two different types of cholesterol – LDL and HDL, which are known as bad and good cholesterol, respectively.
The American Heart Association explains that LDL is typically viewed as bad because “it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries.” In contrast, they claim “experts believe that HDL [carries] LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where the LDL is broken down and passed from the body.” Essentially, LDL rids the body of bad cholesterol, which is why it is often considered as good.
So, what are some ways you can keep your LDL levels under control? The short answer is to incorporate heart healthy foods and exercise into your daily routines. While this may seem oversimplified, we recommend finding exercise routines and recipes that work best for your preferences.
However, Mayo Clinic provides a few helpful guidelines when focusing on heart healthy foods. Some of the guidelines listed include:
- Reducing saturated fats
- Eliminating trans fats
- Increase Omega-3 fatty acids
As always, the best place to receive recommendations about maintain your cholesterol is through your primary care physician/doctor.
Cut that stress out!
It is no secret that the inevitability of stress plays a role in your mental and physical health. Evidentially, stress can lead to factors that impact heart health or increase your risk for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, elements such as “high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, physical inactivity and overeating” can be caused by stress and lead to a decrease in heart health.
The AHA recommends learning to manage stress in order to promote heart health. It is a good idea to take a step back if you find that you are stressed or feeling overworked. By prioritising healthy habits, you are closer to protecting your heart and all that comes with it.
Protect your heart through food
Maintaining a well-rounded diet is one of many ways to manage a health heart. While all foods fit and are good in moderation, there are specific foods that are more beneficial to heart health. As identified by CNN Health, some of these heart-friendly foods include oats, low-fat dairy, leafy greens, nuts/seeds and avocados.
An easy way to start the day with a heart healthy breakfast is by whipping up a bowl of our Steel Cut Oatmeal. CNN Health explains that oatmeal contains “a special type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan,” which reduces cholesterol levels. Steel cut oats are a great breakfast because you can top it off with anything! If you’re into savory oatmeal, you can double up and top your oats with leafy greens and avocado.
Breakfast isn’t the only meal you can incorporate heart healthy ingredients into. We love using low-fat yoghurt to make a Pancake Puff Banana Split! Top it off with some nuts or seeds, and you’ve got yourself a heart-healthy dessert.
If you are trying to introduce more heart healthy ingredients into your diet, we recommend choosing what fits best for your lifestyle! Honoring your heart can take many shapes in forms. By combining exercise routines, mental health promotion and heart healthy foods, you are sure to be on the right track to honoring your heart!