5 Easy Steps To A Healthier Heart

Step One: GET MOVING!

Not only does exercise help to keep your entire body looking and feeling great, it’s also doing amazing work inside. Consider exercise to be a form of medicine for your heart: getting up and moving each day lowers your risks of serious heart ailments like stroke and heart attack. Is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week too much for you with a hectic schedule? Then get creative! Taking the stairs, walking on your lunch break, or parking far away from the door are all easy and practical ways to get some extra steps into your day. Get moving and promote heart health!

A hamburger served in a Burger King in Hong Kong
A hamburger served in a Burger King in Hong Kong (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Step Two: CUT IT OUT!

Fat that is. If you’re eating processed or fast foods, odds are that you’re ingesting trans fats and hydrogenated oils and extremely unhealthy levels. The most dangerous types of fats are these and, unfortunately, they are the ones most commonly used in the cheapest and most appealing menu items. Try to stay away from these fats in order to keep your heart functioning properly. That burger from the golden arch may seem like a good idea now but your heart certainly doesn’t think so. Also try to cut down on the amount of saturated fat you ingest… which is a bit more tricky than trans fats. For a healthy heart you must make some changes in your diet and cutting back on saturated fats will be a change you notice since they are found in meat, skins of poultry, and in full-fat dairy products. Consider incorporating a Meatless Monday into your week or even eating smaller portions of meats and larger portions of vegetables. As for the full-fat dairy products try to downgrade to low or fat-free versions of yogurt, cheeses, or sour cream and make gradual changes to milk; if you’re using half-and-half try switching to whole milk followed by 2% then 1% and finally skim.

Step Three: WATCH THE PORTIONS!

As you’re decreasing the trans fats and hydrogenated oils you may notice an increase in the monounsaturated and healthier oils like peanut, canola or olive. While these oils are beneficial for the function of your heart and body, too much of a good thing is bad. Monitor how much you are using of these by measuring instead of drizzling and pay attention to calories per serving. Like heart healthy oils, nut are also beneficial snacks but can pack on the calories. Almonds, for example, are wonderful substitutions for less healthy snacks but can still have a negative impact if too many are consumed. Just 6 almonds contain 50 calories and one cup of them contains 800 calories! Watch how much of the good thing you’re eating and be mindful.

Step Four: FUNCTIONAL FOODS ARE BEST

Foods that serve a purpose beyond fueling your body with energy are functional foods. For the case of heart health these include high fiber foods, soy and soy proteins, as well as omega-3 rich foods. High fiber foods not only keep your digestive system happy and allow you to trim your waistline, they also reduce (bad LDL) cholesterol levels. Omega-3 rich foods raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels while soy and soy proteins help to keep cholesterol levels balanced as well. Examples of functional foods include salmon and other coldwater fish, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, soy milk, edamame, and whole grains. Be careful when purchasing foods you consider to be high fiber and read the labels carefully. While oatmeal is a beneficial food for so many reasons, it is not as effective as a bowl of steel-cut oats, for example. Pay attention and read your labels to check for fiber content.

Step Five: STOP SHAKING THE SALT

You need 500 milligrams of salt for your body to function properly each day. Guess what, that’s less than a third of a teaspoon. How much are you adding to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner… not to mention how much is already in processed, packaged, prepared, or canned foods. Sodium intake is important to keep an eye on because too much of it causes your heart to work harder and can lead to high blood pressure. One teaspoon of salt has 2,300 milligrams of sodium and that’s the maximum amount recommended for daily intake. Are you getting more than that? Probably if you aren’t reading labels and watching how much you’re shaking on to your food. For good heart health, keep an eye on what you’re putting into your body and prepare your meals at home as much as possible so that you are in control.

The steps are easy to commit to if you’re willing to make the change! Consider how much your heart does each day and make a couple of changes here and there to support it. While you may not want to make all 5 steps a part of your life, strive to incorporate some of them now and others later. You can trim your waistline and promote a healthy heart by monitoring your food and moving. How easy is that!

Sara Beth Watson uses the herbal remedies and products created by Hanna Kroeger, the Grandmother of Health, to outline the importance of using common sense in finding healing. Learn more about Hanna here and signup for enewsletters with remedies and sales here http://www.hannasherbshop.com/shop/newsletter

To learn more about these steps, visit this posting http://www.hannakroeger.com/2012/02/27/heart-health/

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