Love Your Heart This Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is all about love. In fact, during January and February all we see in stores is hearts; heart shaped balloons, heart shaped chocolates, teddy bears holding hearts, heart shape cookies and more. Hearts are everywhere! It’s safe to say we associate hearts with Valentine’s Day and what better way to spend this Valentine’s Day then by talking about our hearts and the importance of being “heart healthy.”
In this week’s blog we are going to discuss six ways to make your heart more healthy this Valentine’s Day.
Maintain an anti-inflammatory diet:
Chronic inflammation has been associated with serious health conditions including cancer and heart disease. One way to help control inflammation is through diet. To minimize inflammation avoid or limit: fried foods, processed meats, alcohol, refined carb, artificial sweeteners, vegetable/soybean oils, and high fructose corn syrup. Take the time to read ingredients. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats. Give yourself an edge by meal prepping so when you’re busy and hungry, you have something healthy to eat.
Stop smoking and vaping:
Smoking and vaping is becoming more common, especially with younger people. This is concerning because vaping and smoking are one of the most detrimental habits an individual can have. Smoking and vaping can lead to a number of issues: heart disease, stroke, lung disease, cancer, and more. While quitting is hard, it is possible and necessary to be heart healthy.
Maintain a healthy weight:
Maintaining a healthy weight is another way to insure that you are taking care of your heart. When an individual is overweight it can put a lot of pressure on the heart and lungs making it difficult for that person to breathe. Plus the extra weight puts added stress and strain on the musculoskeletal system resulting in increased joint and muscle pain. One of the best ways to know your healthy weight range is to either calculate your body mass index and see what fat percentage you have or look up the ideal weight range for your height. Both of these factors will give you an insight into how over, under, or normal your weight is.
Have your blood pressure checked:
Blood pressure measures the force of blood pressing on the arteries as it circulates throughout your body. When someone has a high blood pressure that means that their heart is working double time to pump the blood to your extremities. Having chronic high blood pressure can lead to your heart becoming overworked which ultimately can lead to heart disease. Acute high blood pressure is normal in some cases, but when the condition lingers over a long period of time it can cause some trouble. Checking your blood pressure is possible even at home if you have the right tools. The normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is 110/70, so when you do get your blood pressure checked you want to remain as close to those numbers as possible.
Monitor your cholesterol:
We mentioned earlier how inflammation caused by one’s diet impacts the cardiovascular system. Cholesterol also affects the cardiovascular system so it’s important to discuss how. There are two types of cholesterol; low density cholesterol (LDL) and high density cholesterol (HDL). HDL is a form of cholesterol that is considered “healthy” cholesterol. LDL is titled the “bad” cholesterol and when that builds up it can actually lead to a heart attack or stroke. Eating a diet that is high in trans fat can cause your HDL levels to drop and your LDL levels to increase. By monitoring your cholesterol levels you can begin to make changes in your diet to help increase your HDL and lower your LDL. This is important because increased LDL’s in the blood are associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, whereas increased HDL’s are associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
There are so many benefits of exercise: toned muscles, increased mood, increased energy, better sleep, healthy heart and more. However, even with all of the positives some people still find themselves struggling to work out. The best advice you can get when it comes to exercise is to build your way up. Begin by finding your favorite form of exercise: yoga, cycling, walking, jogging, going to the gym and then using that method to build upon. Starting small will make the journey more enjoyable as you will be able to measure your growth and in the process you will be doing things that make your heart very happy.
We hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day. The best Valentine’s Day gift you can give your loved ones, is the gift of good health. Start with taking care of your heart this Valentine’s Day and all year long!