Life’s Simple 7: Tips for Better Heart Health Nutrition
Just because you may have a strong genetic risk for heart disease, there’s no reason to admit defeat. A recent American Heart Association Journal study on circulation suggests that following seven healthy lifestyle habits can add as many as 20 years of life – two whole decades – free from heart disease. The habits are called “Life’s Simple 7.”
They’re not all simple, but working toward them is well worth it! Let’s take a look at the ideas.
Manage Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is read as systolic blood pressure over diastolic blood pressure. Normal is considered 120 over 80. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. Diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats. Managing blood pressure may require medication, but can also be improved by implementing many of the simple seven habits.
Control Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that our bodies produce and is also found in the animal products we eat. There are different types of cholesterol that have different jobs in the body, some are more harmful (LDL) while others are more helpful (HDL). Managing cholesterol may require medication, but can also be improved by implementing many of the simple seven habits.
Reduce Your Blood Sugar
Carbohydrates in the foods we eat turn into glucose in the stomach, enter our bloodstream, and fuel our body. However, when there is too much glucose or not enough insulin our blood sugar spends too much time outside the “normal” range. Consistently high blood sugar can damage the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Managing blood sugar may require medication, but can also be improved by implementing many of the simple seven habits.
Get Yourself More Active
A great place to start is simply moving more. A five-minute walk around the block at lunch. A five to 10-minute tai chi video in the morning or before bed. The long-term goal would be 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week; however, every small step toward this goal helps.
Feed Yourself Better Meals
Healthy eating can look many different ways. Try making small swaps within each food group to improve overall quality. The more natural or less processing the better. Instead of pre-fried frozen chicken strips try adding your own bread crumbs to a chicken breast and baking. Usually sip on juice at breakfast? Try munching on fresh or freeze-dried fruit instead. Only like your vegetables in cheese sauce? Try marinating and roasting.
Get Yourself Off Tobacco
I realize this is not a simple task! However, within one year after quitting your risk of heart disease goes down by half.
It does not have to be all or nothing. The study showed that on average individuals with a high genetic risk who maintained a poor lifestyle experienced a coronary heart disease event 20 years earlier than those with the same genetic risk but an ideal lifestyle.
Addressing even one or two of these habits can help you steer clear of the hospital for a few extra years.
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