Improving your heart health doesn’t require major life changes. You can do a lot of little things to improve your heart’s health, says Dr. Ian Weisberg. Because small changes add up, making a few important choices each day can help you.
Sit Less, Stand, and Walk More
Sitting down all the time atrophies your heart muscle. Every hour or two, stand up and walk around for a few minutes. It doesn’t matter whether you go to the bathroom, grab a water bottle from the refrigerator, or walk up and down the hallway or outside. Healthline offers a good suggestion for office workers to work at a standing desk, too.
Get Daily Exercise
You choose what type of exercise you want to do. Play tennis, walk, run, bicycle, play Frisbee, or something else entirely. From shuffleboard to polo, exercise helps. Get moving for a total of 150 minutes per week for low-impact cardio, like walking or swimming, or 75 minutes a week for high-impact cardio, like aerobics or running.
Use Portion Control
When you eat, only eat a standard portion of each food. That means a four-ounce serving of meat or other protein and half a cup of vegetables. Read the nutritional facts on each prepared food you buy and only eat one serving of it. Most people can keep their favorite foods in their diets by doing this.
Choose Healthier Cooking Methods
Eating a heart-healthy diet does not mean giving up favorite foods like steak or chicken. Instead of deep-frying, use a crisp baking method that produces a crispy coating without the unhealthy oil frying. This lets a person keep “fried” chicken and chicken “fried” steak in their diet while removing the unhealthy fat source.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
According to the Cleveland Clinic them, brushing and flossing your teeth daily helps ward off gum disease. The bacteria involved in gum disease can flow into the bloodstream, causing C-reactive protein elevation, a marker for blood vessel inflammation. That elevation increases your stroke and heart disease risk.
Eat More Fibrous Food
The right fiber in a diet can improve heart health. Eat beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Fiber helps you feel full sooner and helps lower cholesterol.
Pulling It All Together
Making these six small changes adds up to a big, healthier life change. Let’s look at how to apply it in an everyday situation with a meal and a walk around the block afterward. Lots of people adore Tex-Mex food, so this example explains how to trade healthy options for the typical non-healthy ones.
A heart-healthy meal could include black beans instead of refried beans as a side dish. Grill the chicken or beef for the soft tacos, tacos, or burritos, using a spray like Pam instead of butter or oil, and the same taco seasoning mix as usual. Use fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños as a garnish for the tacos. Replace the fried tortilla chips with baked ones, and only eat one serving. Serve fresh salsa or picante because both consist of vegetables in tomato paste with vinegar. This simple meal alteration keeps a delicious Tex-Mex meal on the table without high cholesterol or trans-fats. Enjoy a walk after the meal for better heart health.