Boost Your Heart Health This New Year With These 6 Simple Tips

by Dr. Jonathan D'Souza

Your heart is what drives the body—it’s like the engine that powers a car. And like any other organ in the body, it needs to be in good shape for us to function well. US-based studies suggest that the holiday season sees an increase in cardiac events, particularly around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

With the New Year around the corner, it’s time we leave unhealthy habits behind and make our heart health our number one priority. Here are a few simple tips that will help.

1.Stay Away From Overly Salty Foods
Fried foods that are loaded with salt can increase blood pressure and contribute to hypertension, a well-known and major risk factor for heart disease. Instead of using salt, use herbs such as lemongrass and basil to enhance the taste and flavor. Check your food labels to determine the salt content. Remember, excess salt is often added to food in order to compensate for the loss in taste during heating and processing of food.

2. Don’t Skip Your Breakfast
Just like a car can’t run without fuel, your body can’t perform without food. Eat a nutritious, healthy breakfast at the start of the day to provide your body the much-needed energy to keep your heart pumping and disease-free.

3. Drink (A Little) Wine
Wine improves blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels and raising the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which in turn helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and a normal blood pressure. Wine also protects from atherosclerosis, giving you a healthier heart. Both men and women can have a glass wine every day for improved heart health. But remember that when it comes to wine, moderation is key!

4. Sleep For At Least 7 Hours
According to a research, part of the WHO program MONICA (multinational monitoring of trends and determinants in cardiovascular disease), poor sleep can double the risk of a heart attack. Getting less than seven hours of sleep every night can increase blood pressure and cortisol (stress hormone) levels. This makes the arteries vulnerable to plaque build-up and can lead to heart disease.

5. Say Yes To Nuts
Nuts, particularly walnuts, are rich in antioxidants that help combat risk factors for heart disease by reducing inflammation, lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing plaque build-up in the arteries and improving the function of blood vessels. Eat four walnuts every day to prevent heart disease.

6. Keep Your Heart Rate Up & Going
When you gain weight, the body produces more fats cells, which collectively form the adipose (fat) tissue. In order to ensure that the new tissue gets an adequate amount of blood, the vascular system expands to make up for the increase.

Your body makes blood vessels of about seven miles in length for every pound of fat you gain. This puts additional strain on your heart as it has to work harder to pump blood throughout the new network of blood vessels. When you lose weight, the body reabsorbs the blood vessels from the lost tissue. This decreases the strain on your heart. This is the reason experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise every day for better heart health.

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