Best Ways To Improve Heart Health: Top 5 Natural Methods To Care For Your Ticker, Per Health Experts
Apr 20, 2023
Even if you’ve been told that you don't have a heart, you do, and you need to take care of it, because it's the only one you have. You know heart health is important, but you may not know the how exactly to achieve it, and that's where we can help. We searched the web to find the best ways to improve heart health, according to experts, and we’ve listed them here for you.
Improving heart health need not require a large effort on your part. In fact, it can be quite effortless as researchers say gratitude offers a ‘unique stress-buffering effect’ when it comes to both reacting to, and recovering from, acute psychological stress. Study authors add that adopting a more thankful worldview can even promote better cardiovascular health. That's right, the practice of gratitude can promote heart health. A state of gratitude predicts lower systolic blood pressure responses throughout the stress-testing period. Looks like it's time to make gratitude a regular practice!
If you’re already an active person, exercising regularly, you can still boost heart health further. Research shows that adding yoga to a regular exercise routine can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Researchers in Canada found that yoga can lower blood pressure, resting heart rate, and improve a person's 10-year cardiovascular risk. Structured yoga practices can be a healthier addition to aerobic exercise than simply muscle stretching.
Now that you know at least a couple of tips to boosting your heart, let's get to our list of the five best ways to improve heart health, according to health experts. Of course, we want to hear from you. Which ways help to keep your heart healthy? Comment below to let us know!
Experts listed many lifestyle changes that will improve heart health. Things such as reducing stress, getting quality sleep, practicing good oral hygiene, moderating alcohol intake, and quitting smoking will all work to extend the miles you’ll get out of your heart.
Jefferson Health says to be sure to brush your teeth every day, and don't forget to floss. They write: "Good dental hygiene is good way to a healthy heart." They also point out the stress factor: "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." Finally, they recommend ample sleep for heart health: "The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven to nine 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."
"Wash your hands often," writes Harvard Health Publishing. "Scrubbing up with soap and water often during the day is a great way to protect your heart and health. The flu, pneumonia, and other infections can be very hard on the heart." They also recommend breathing deeply: "Try breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes a day. It can help you relax. Slow, deep breathing may also help lower blood pressure." Another path to optimal heart health, according to them, is to count your blessings: "Taking a moment each day to acknowledge the blessings in your life is one way to start tapping into other positive emotions. These have been linked with better health, longer life, and greater well-being, just as their opposites — chronic anger, worry, and hostility — contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease."
Mayo Clinic Health System writes: "Start making basic lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart disease and subsequent issues." They recommend you avoid tobacco: "If you currently smoke, chew tobacco, vape, or use other tobacco products, quit right away — your health care team can help. If you don't smoke now, keep it that way." They also recommend drinking alcohol only in moderation, if at all: "Heavy alcohol use is detrimental to your heart health. Although some research indicates moderate consumption of certain alcoholic beverages may have positive health effects, limiting your intake to a maximum of one drink per day or abstaining from alcohol altogether is best."
No surprise here. Exercise is the magic pill, it's just not an easy one to swallow because it takes much effort. But experts listed many different forms of exercise, so there's sure to be something for you to stick with. What's most important is that you maintain an active lifestyle, not how many hours you spend in the gym.
Johns Hopkins Medicine lists three types of exercise that will improve heart health: aerobic, strength training, and stretching and balance workouts. "Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, Stewart says. In addition, it increases your overall aerobic fitness, as measured by a treadmill test, for example, and it helps your cardiac output (how well your heart pumps). Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition, Stewart says. For people who are carrying a lot of body fat (including a big belly, which is a risk factor for heart disease), it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Flexibility workouts, such as stretching, don't directly contribute to heart health. What they do is benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues. That flexibility is a critical part of being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training, says Stewart."
UT Southwestern Medical Center advises to have a balance between enough exercise, but not to put too much strain on your heart. "Build movement into chores. Find ways to multitask, whether you’re making dinner, cleaning, or brushing your teeth. Do a few sets of jumping jacks, squats, and lunges while waiting for water to boil. When you bend down to pick something off the floor, get all the way down and do a few push-ups. Walk in place or do calf raises while brushing your teeth. Some movement is better than nothing."
"Aim for 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity most days of the week. Think brisk walking, bicycling, and swimming," writes WebMD. "If you have heart disease or any other health problem, talk with your doctor before you start exercising. If you’re new to exercise or haven't exercised in a long time, start slowly, doing just a little bit at a time." And that is a good point, because many people at the thought of seeing results aggressively dive into an exercise program that is too extreme for them to maintain. When this happens it typically leads to failure, unfortunately. The initial soreness and fatigue may deter people from keeping up with the program if they start off too vigorously.
This means limiting fast-food intake and taking control of what's on your plate. It might even mean learning to cook healthy meals yourself. And if you dislike cooking or don't have time, there are plenty of food delivery services that provide nutritious meals tailored to your exact macronutrient needs.
Healthline recommends lowering daily sodium intake: "Too much sodium causes you to retain water, according to a small 2017 study. When it does, your heart has to work harder to move the additional fluid through your body. Choose foods labeled as ‘no salt added,’ try to avoid foods that have more than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving, and try to stay below 1500 milligrams total per day." They also recommend lowering saturated fat intake: "Saturated fat can lead to atherosclerosis, where hard plaque builds up in your arteries. You can lower your intake by eating low fat cuts of meat, like the eye of round roast or sirloin tip, and avoiding high fat dairy products. Generally speaking, if it's greasy, it's likely higher in saturated fats." Instead, they say to choose heart-healthy fats like vegetable oil, low fat mayonnaise, and oil-based salad dressings."
"Eating healthy can help lower your risk of heart disease. A heart-healthy diet includes foods that are low in saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium (salt)," writes HHS. "Heart-healthy items include high-fiber foods (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) and certain fats (like the fats in olive oil and fish)."
Mayo Clinic writes, "A heart-healthy eating plan includes vegetables and fruits, beans or other legumes, lean meats and fish, low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, whole grains, and healthy fats, such as olive oil."
"The Mediterranean diet focuses on vegetables, grains, lean proteins, and the regular consumption of olive oil. It advocates that people eat dairy and red meat infrequently and foods with added sugar rarely," writes Medical News Today. "The DASH diet includes more protein from low-fat dairy, meat, and poultry."
This, of course, goes hand in hand with diet and exercise. If you’re carrying extra weight on your frame, you’re putting extra stress on your heart, on your entire body. Acting on the other recommendations on this list will help you to naturally gravitate toward a weight that is idea for your structure.
Mayo Clinic Health System writes: "You need to exercise regularly and lower portion sizes and calorie intake at meals to lose weight or maintain a healthy size. Simply put, to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume…Healthy and fresh food choices — such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes — lower your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, as well as make you feel better than when you eat processed and junk food."
HHS writes, "If you’re overweight or have obesity, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help lower your risk of heart disease. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, that would mean losing 10 to 20 pounds. Find out how to control your weight…If you don't know if you’re at a healthy weight, use this calculator to figure out your body mass index (BMI)."
According to the Mayo Clinic, "Excess weight can lead to conditions that increase the chances of developing heart disease — including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes…A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight and is generally associated with higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke." And for another way to check: "Waist circumference also can be a useful tool to measure how much belly fat you have. The risk of heart disease is higher if the waist measurement is greater than: 40 inches (101.6 centimeters, or cm) for men and 35 inches (88.9 cm) for women."
The thing many people avoid: seeing a doctor. But preventive maintenance, as with your car, is also important for your heart. Regularly checking things such as blood pressure and cholesterol will give you a good idea of where your heart health stands and allow you to see whether you’re trending toward or away from heart health.
Healthline mentions: "Visiting a doctor annually (or more often, depending on your health) can help you take a preventive approach to care. If you have conditions known to affect heart health, such as chronic kidney disease or diabetes, make efforts to manage these conditions to improve your overall health…This includes lowering stress, eating a heart-healthy diet, and exercising. If you aren't sure where to begin, talk with your doctor about ways you can safely improve your heart health."
"Get physical examinations or checkups at least yearly," writes Mayo Clinic Health System. "Doing so will help you monitor health conditions and allow your provider to examine you for high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol and diabetes. If you have these conditions, talk to your health care team about medicines and lifestyle changes to help you control them, which will lower your risk for heart disease."
WebMD recommends how to keep your cholesterol in check: "There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol. That's why it's best to get your cholesterol levels checked through a blood test or home kits. You may need to go without eating, drinking, or taking medication, anywhere from nine to 12 hours before your test. Talk to your doctor about how to best prep for a home test."
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.
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