10 Small Changes to Help Support Heart Health
Great things come in small packages. While this might not make you think of heart health, small lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on cardiovascular wellness. Consider these simple practices that can lead to meaningful benefits for your heart.
- Rise, Shine, & Eat Breakfast
- Eat your breakfast! A study assessing whether specific eating habits affect coronary heart disease (CHD) risk indicated that men who skip breakfast have a 27% higher risk of CHD.1 And ladies, this could apply to you as well, so make sure you eat a nutrient-balanced breakfast every day.
- The Perfect Portion
- Did you know that adults now consume 300 calories more per day than they did in 1985?2 Additionally, more than 70% of US adults are either overweight or obese.3 Those with a healthy weight are less likely to develop heart disease.3 Additionally, portion control can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, but watch out for packaged foods and restaurant meals that actually give you two or more servings.
- You Never Lose When You Snooze
- According to the American Heart Association, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure (a risk factor for heart disease). Slower metabolism and difficulty losing weight can also be attributed to sleep deprivation. So get your z’s by aiming for six to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Go for a Walk
- You can also swim, run, or dance. But whatever you do, make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week or 25 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three days per week to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. By doing this, a woman can help reduce her risk of coronary heart disease by up to 40%.4
- Jump on the Scale
- Don’t wait to see if excess weight is hanging around your body and possibly affecting your heart. By knowing your numbers, you and your healthcare practitioner can create a plan to help you lose weight and address other issues that often arise with excess weight (such as high cholesterol and triglyceride levels).
- Drop the Pounds
- Excess weight does more than make your pants not fit. It can negatively affect your heart by raising cholesterol levels and blood pressure and impairing blood glucose control.5 To help reduce cardiovascular risk, the American Heart Association recommends losing 7% to 10% of your body weight over a period of six months to one year.6
- Crush the Habit
- Smokers have more than twice the risk of nonsmokers of having a heart attack.7 Even one or two cigarettes per day increases this risk.7 Stop smoking to reduce your risk; if you do not smoke, steer clear of secondhand smoke. And stay away from e-cigarettes, as well, as they contain chemicals that can affect your blood pressure, promote blood clots, and increase the formation of arterial plaques.8
- Take an Electronics Break
- Living in a high-tech world has its benefits, but it can also throw you out of rhythm. Artificial blue light from modern bulbs and electronic devices can suppress the secretion of melatonin (which gives you that sleepy feeling) and keep you from getting enough sleep.9 And not getting enough sleep has been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular issues.9 So put away your phone, tablet, or computer and shut off the television two to three hours before going to bed.
- Eat More Plants
- When it comes to being heart-healthy, a plant-based diet shines for its ability to help lower the risk of cardiovascular-related complications.10 Eat cardioprotective food choices such as those found in a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-friendly options like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
- Take Care of Your Smile
- Gum health affects heart health. Research shows that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease—even more at risk than those with high cholesterol.11 Bacteria found in infected gum tissue can enter the bloodstream and move into the circulatory system, contributing to the progression of cardiovascular disease.11
Ready to start making small changes? Begin by talking with your healthcare practitioner to determine what steps you should take. And whether that means tackling one change at a time or all of them at once, you’ll be in a good place for getting to the heart of your cardiovascular health.
- Cahill L et al. A prospective study of breakfast eating and incident coronary heart disease in a cohort of male U.S. health professionals. Circulation. 2013; 128(4):337–343.
- The American Heart Association. Portion Size Versus Serving Size. https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/portion-size-versus-serving-size. Accessed April 18, 2018.
- The American Heart Association. Obesity Information. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/WeightManagement/Obesity/Obesity-Information_UCM_307908_Article.jsp#.WteAzq6rQeM. Accessed April 28, 2018.
- The American Heart Association. Physical Activity Improves Quality Of Life. Go Red For Women. https://www.goredforwomen.org/live-healthy/first-steps-to-prevent-heart-disease-and-be-heart-healthy/physical-activity-improves-quality-life. Accessed April 18, 2018.
- The Cleveland Clinic. Obesity & Heart Disease. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17308-obesity–heart-disease. Accessed April 20, 2018.
- The Cleveland Clinic. Metabolic Syndrome: Heart Health. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17222-metabolic-syndrome-heart-health. Accessed May 7, 2018.
- The Cleveland Clinic. Cardiovascular Disease: Prevention and Reversal: Risk Factor Goals. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17385-cardiovascular-disease-prevention–reversal/risk-factor-goals. Accessed April 20, 2018.
- Bhatnagar A. Are electronic cigarette users at increased risk for cardiovascular disease? JAMA Cardiol. 2017;2(3):237-238.
- Harvard Health Letter. Blue light has a dark side. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side. Accessed April 20, 2018.
- Harvard Health Letter. Plant-based diets that protect your heart. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/plant-based-diets-that-protect-your-heart. Accessed April 20, 2018.
- Gregg R. Dentistry IQ. The surprising link between periodontal disease and heart health: What dental professionals need to know. https://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2017/02/the-surprising-link-between-periodontal-disease-and-heart-health-what-dental-professionals-need-to-know.html. Accessed April 20, 2018.
Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team