7 Ways to Make Your Heart Stronger By Bedtime

Dean Karalis, MD

This post was written by Dr. Dean Karalis. Dr. Karalis’s specialties range from preventive cardiology to clinical cardiology to lipidology to women’s cardiovascular health. He is the past-president of the Northeast Chapter of the National Lipid Association. Dr. Karalis recently joined Thomas Jefferson University Hospital along with 16 other highly-skilled physicians from the Center City Division of Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia (CCP).  

A healthy diet and lifestyle is the best recipe to prevent cardiovascular disease.  Small changes in your lifestyle can add up and make you live longer and healthier.  You know what to do, and actually making positive changes in your lifestyle is not as hard as you think.  Read on for simple tips that you can incorporate into your daily routine to make your heart healthier by the time you’re ready for bed.

1. Eat a well-rounded, balanced diet.

A healthy diet consists of eating a variety of foods from all the food groups. The American Heart Association healthy diet emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils. You should limit your intake of saturated and trans-fats, red meats, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages and refined carbohydrates. The American Heart Association recommends counting calories and knowing how many calories you consume in a day.  If you want to lose weight you need to use up more calories than you take in.

2. Don’t sit for too long. Get up and exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.  If you don’t have time during the day to exercise get up and walk around for at least 10 minutes 3 times during your work day—and always, always take the stairs.

3. Brush your teeth every day – and don’t forget to floss.

Inflammation plays a key hole in plaque forming in your heart arteries.  Good dental hygiene is good way to a healthy heart.

4. Quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke.

Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor not only for heart disease, but for stroke, pulmonary disease and cancer.

5. Snack smart throughout the day.

Eat a healthy snack in the afternoon such as a handful of almonds or walnuts. Certain fruits like apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that fills you up and also lowers your cholesterol.

6. Get plenty of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep.  Not getting enough sleep can make you feel tired during the day and make you more likely to crave non-healthy foods leading to weight gain.

7. Recognize and reduce stress in your life.

Stress can cause high blood pressure, and is linked to cardiovascular disease.  Find healthy ways to reduce your stress.  Exercise, yoga, meditation, and social interaction with friends are good ways to reduce stress and your risk of heart disease.

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