The heart – it’s the very organ that works quietly and diligently day in and day out, working nonstop to sustain our lives. We’ve been told over and over again by our parents, our trainers, our doctors, and popular social media outlets that we need to take good care of our hearts.
Cardiovascular disease is on the rise at an increasing pace. In fact, heart disease is #1 leading cause of death in the United States. While there are some factors like genetic disposition that you can’t control, there are quite a few other variables that you can control starting today. Read below about 8 different ways you can make a difference and keep your heart strong and healthy for life!
Cut Back on Red Meat – We know how hard it can be to resist that tantalizing steak or that mouth-watering filet mignon, but if you’re a big red meat eater, you should rethink your eating habits. It’s true that some red meat in your diet is beneficial and provides you with iron and protein; however, you should limit yourself to eating red meat 2-3 times a week and to choose from lean sources at all times. In the place of red meat, choose other healthy sources of protein including fish, poultry, beans, and low-fat dairy products.
Pile on the Fruits and Veggies – It can’t be said enough that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is the single best protection in fighting off diseases. When you choose your produce, go for fruits and veggies that are deep in color as they will hold the highest amounts of antioxidants, which are critical in preventing cancer. For example, substitute iceberg lettuce, which holds little nutritional value, with spinach, kale, or even romaine lettuce to get the most out of your salads.
Make Your Own Meals – Yes, we know it’s time-consuming, and we know it’s so tempting to just go to your local fast food joint and pick up a quick bite to eat, but it’s so much more beneficial to make your own meals. This will allow you to control what you put into your food (and saves you some money along the way). Choose good ingredients to make for your meals including organic fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy product choices.
Reduce Your Cheese Intake – Dairy products are essential to eat when it comes to maintaining strong bones and a strong heart, but cheese isn’t going to do much for you in helping to reduce your risk for heart disease (unless if you’re consuming low-fat cheese products, perhaps). Try to decrease or even eliminate your cheese intake and choose other heart-healthy methods that will provide plenty of protein and calcium to your body.
Increase Your Soluble Fiber Content – Choose healthy, unprocessed sources of soluble fiber including beans, oat bran, barley, and non-sweetened oatmeal to give your heart and body the right nutrients they need. Processed fiber like breads and pasta will do more harm than good, so stick with the real stuff to get the most benefit.
Control Your Insulin Levels – Controlling your insulin levels isn’t just for those concerned about diabetes – it’s also good for your heart! One of the best ways you can help prevent large spikes and subsequent crashes in your levels is by omitting all white grain-type foods from your diet. Try instead to focus on consuming starches that come straight from the ground and are the least processed as possible. Potatoes, dry oats, brown rice, and quinoa sprouts are all excellent choices to help you control your levels. Additionally, try to eschew white breads, pastas, and dry, cold cereal.
Drink in Moderation – You don’t have to remove alcohol from your diet, necessarily, to protect yourself against heart disease! In fact, alcohol consumed in moderation can actually decrease your risk of heart disease, especially if you choose wine as your beverage of choice. Keep your alcohol consumption in moderation; that means one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men, maximum.
Engage in Intense Exercise – It’s not just about what you put in your body – it’s about how you physically treat your body as well that partially dictates your risk of heart disease! If you aren’t already, work up to exercising vigorously most days of the week for at least 30 minutes per workout. Try running, jogging, speed-walking, swimming laps, or any other exercise that gets your heart rate up for some time to get the most out of your workout.
Concerned about your wellness? Need a test done on your heart? We can help! Labtest Diagnostics provides an array of tests and panels to analyze how your body is performing and show you possible points of concern. Call us today at (314) 522-8378 or schedule an appointment online at www.dlabtest.com!