15 simple tips to keep your heart healthy

Do all of these as part of your daily routine and you will have a fine heart that will keep beating strong for years, says Anju Katara, nutritionist at Practo.

September 29 was World Heart Day.

So it’s the perfect time to check how your heart is doing and feeling.

Your heart is the centre of your whole system and here’s what you can do to keep it happy and healthy:

1. Strengthen the muscles of your heart by getting regular exercise

As with other muscles, your heart muscles become strong when they are made to contract and release repeatedly at a fast pace.

This keeps your heart beating nicely. It also burns away any accumulated fat that could deposit in your arteries that leads to heart attacks. Keep the pipe lines clean!

Pick one activity from here, and do it six days a week for 30 minutes:

  • Walk
  • Yoga
  • Jog
  • Run
  • Cycle
  • Swim
  • Aerobics/ zumba/kickboxing
  • Active sport (football, tennis, badminton, etc)

2. Eat heart healthy foods

Include foods like avocado, oatmeal, salmon, olive oil, nuts, berries, pure chocolate (100 per cent), legumes and spinach. Make one of these a part of every meal.

3. Cut out the ugly artery clogging fried foods.

Avoid oily foods, processed foods and artificial sugars.

Most of the fried food contain trans fat which is detrimental to the arteries.

Keep away from those innocent looking puffs/khaaris/croissants, etc.

4. Have a cup of green tea

Besides having anti-ageing properties, green tea lowers LDL cholesterol and prevents build-up of plaque in the arteries.

5. Have a glass of red wine

Drinking small amounts of red wine is heart healthy. Yes! the alcohol has something called ‘resveratrol’ which acts like an antioxidant, preventing coronary artery diseases. And also red wine is great for anti-ageing!

6. Consume high fibre diet

Lentils, whole grains, beans, fruits and oatmeal are commonly available foods containing fibre.

Fibre is known to lower blood pressure, limit inflammation and reduce your bad cholesterol as it can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.

Recommended intake of fibre is 35 to 40 grams per day.

The best way to increase fibre in your diet is by making sure you eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

7. Get your 5 a day

Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. They’re a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

There are lots of tasty ways to get your 5 a day, like adding chopped fruit to cereal or including vegetables in your pasta sauces and curries.

8. Cut down on salt

To maintain healthy blood pressure, avoid using salt at the table and try adding less to your cooking.

Once you get used to the taste of food without added salt, you can cut it out completely.

9. Give up smoking

If you ‘re a smoker, quit. It’s the single best thing you can do for your heart health.

Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease.

A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.

10. Read labels

When shopping, it’s a good idea to look at the label on food and drink packaging to see how many calories and how much fat, salt and sugar the product contains.

Understanding what is in food and how it fits in with the rest of your diet will help you make healthier choices.

11. Meditate

An article published by Harvard Health Publishing suggests that regular meditation is known to protect one from heart diseases.

Meditation reduces stress levels and makes the heart pump normally.

Even 10 minutes a day can be of much good.

12. Do one enjoyable activity every day

Solve a crossword; phone your best friend; read a book; watch a comedy show; anything that is happy and positive.

13. Get your annual health and wellness check-up done

It is important for all of us to think routine or annual check-ups of our health as an investment scheme.

By getting yourself checked from time to time, you will be able to treat any health problem, including those related to the heart, in its early stages, and the process will also be much quicker.

14. Plan a daily routine

Plan a routine that makes you happy and stick to it. This lowers stress caused by disarray.

15. Disconnect!

Take time off from your phone, computer, TV and mental hang ups.

Relax your body and mind.

Light candles, play happy music, spray your house with scents. Your environment affects your mood.

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