4 simple steps to improve heart health

Here are 4 simple things you need to do to conquer the major threats to your heart. This is not a crash diet plan - it is instead a recommendation to a way of life through gradual changes that will bring in positive results.

It is easy to combat coronary heart disease (CHD) if you heed to expert advice. You just need to change the way you eat and the way you live - and voila you cut down the risk of CHD. There is not much that needs to be done. There are just four important things that you can do to bring about significant changes to your heart health. It is doable.

Improve heart health

  1. Get moving – Being more active is the key to good (heart) health. Start by doing a 30 minutes workout every alternate day. Nothing strenuous, just something moderate that will raise your pulse rate a bit. Do something you enjoy. Remember, what you liked doing as a kid – swim, cycle, play basketball. Dance if that gives you pleasure. You don't have to dread the 30 minutes workout plans - any physical activity can be a workout. So, choose something that you like doing.
  2. Manage stress – Stress is a silent killer. It can trigger serious ailments, if left unattended. Learn to tackle stress. Easier, said than done – right? Wrong! There are hoards of ways of soothing yourself. Adopt activities that relax you – meditation, music, swimming, reading – anything that can calm your tense nerves. Go for a stroll, go window shopping, play with your kids. Take weekend holidays. You'll be surprised at how little things can give immense pleasure and take your mind of serious, often troubling issues. Take the chill pill and give yourself a break.
  3. Kick the nicotine habit – In other words, quit smoking. Smoking is injurious to health in more than one way. I don't want to elaborate on this, since this is one message that must already have reached you. All you need to do is act. Act now, and say goodbye to cancer and cardiovascular problems.
  4. Improve your diet – Start by serving yourself healthy meals, whether you are eating at home or eating out.

How to make diet and lifestyle changes for a healthy heart

To begin with make changes in small, attainable measures. With time, you will get better at it. Be it exercise or diet; don't begin something that is not sustainable. The small changes you make will make big changes within you. Soon you will begin to notice changes in yourself – you will sleep well, have better digestion, feel less fatigued, be less irritable, have more energy, will lose weight, will breathe easy and be fresh and sprightly at all times. These are definite signs of good health.

This won't happen overnight, nor will it happen if you don't make it happen. The effort has to come from you. Let's discuss changes in the diet. If you change the way you eat you will boost significant changes faster. The right diet can cut down the risk of not just CHD but also medical conditions associated with it.

A change in diet will help you control three major conditions that can lead to CHD –
  1. High blood pressure or hypertension
  2. Raised blood cholesterol levels
  3. Being obese or overweight

Follow a heart friendly diet

A heart friendly diet is quite simple. You probably know what is good for your heart; nevertheless it'll do you no harm to once again go through what is on the list again. Here is the list, so you are in no doubt –
  1. Five portions – Consume at least five servings of fruits and/or vegetables every day. Maintain a variety. You cannot eat one type of fruit or vegetable at each meal and count it as 5 portions. Include different coloured stuff in your diet. Ensure it is fresh, not canned or preserved. Remember seasonal foods are better. And French fries and onion rings don't count as vegetables.
  2. Say yes to starch – Half of what you eat at each meal must be made up of starch. Starchy foods include breads (roti, paratha etc) but remember whole grain stuff is healthier than processed white flour (maida). Other sources of starch are rice, pasta and potatoes (no French fries).
  3. Limit oil intake – Oil is necessary for metabolic functions, but limit the intake to small amounts. Cut down on saturated fats, as found in animal fat, ghee and butter. Switch to healthy oils that bring down LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
  4. NaCl=Sodium – Sodium in table salt can be bad for health. It causes blood pressure to spike. So, cut down on excess sodium intake or shop for low sodium salts.

This is a broad guideline around which you need to make your meals. It is based on the DASH diet plan that reduces bad cholesterol in the body.

You may also find this article on Cholesterol interesting and informative.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 548 articles authored by Juana

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