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Heart-Healthy Lifestyle: 8 Weeks To A Healthy Heart

    Heart-Healthy Lifestyle: 8 Weeks To A Healthy Heart

    It may not be feasible to develop heart healthy lifestyle overnight, but you can do so much in weeks! If you’re wondering how to go about boosting and protecting your heart health, these week by week tips can serve as your guide!

    Week 1: Decide To Start Exercising

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), millions of deaths occur each year as a result of insufficient physical activity. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start by working out three times per week and work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. This is equivalent to 30 to 40 minutes per day, four to five days per week. Generally, the more regular you can work out, the better for your health it will be.

    Week 2: Quit Smoking!

    If you smoke and already have heart disease, know that stopping the habit can lower your risk of cardiovascular ailments that might eventually lead to death. If you’re determined to have a heart healthy lifestyle, remember that one of the best thing you can do is to stop smoking. But, since this is one of the hardest lifestyle changes to make, you can consider enrolling in a smoking cessation program.

    If you don’t smoke, make an effort to avoid secondhand smoke because it increases your risk of developing heart disease, too.

    Also, please keep in mind that vape and e-cigarettes are equivalent to smoking. They are NOT the better option, hence they must be stopped too.

    Week 3: Avoid or Consume Less of the Unhealthy Fats

    On the 3rd week, think of ways on how you can avoid or lower your intake of saturated and trans fats, as they are particularly harmful to your heart and arteries. Remember: a heart-healthy diet contains moderate amounts of beneficial fats.

    Also, since fat has the highest concentration of calories and energy, consuming less of it can help you lose weight and reduce your chance of getting heart disease and certain types of cancer. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats, are good for your heart.

    Choose lower-fat options wherever possible, such as skinless chicken breasts instead of fried chicken patties and skim milk instead of whole milk. Lean meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are the best sources of protein.

    Week 4: Remember That Your Cholesterol Levels Matter

    A lower level of cholesterol (particularly LDL or bad cholesterol) is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Make sure a variety of fruits, veggies, healthy grains, and low-fat dairy products are on your daily meal. Consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses (peas, beans, and lentils). They are nutrient-dense foods that are good for your heart and cholesterol levels. Plant-based foods also do not have cholesterol, unlike animal-based foods.

    Week 5: Cut Out Your Salt and Sugar Intake

    Too much salt causes the body to retain water, which can raise blood pressure and strain the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. This is the reason why people with or who are at risk of high blood pressure are advised against using salt in their meals. Most foods already contain sodium, so adding salt to meals is not necessary. Instead of salt, why not consider herbs and spices as seasoning. Likewise, try to avoid consuming processed foods as they usually have too much salt. Doing so gets you one step closer to having a heart healthy lifestyle.

    Another thing to do is to cut back on the intake of sugary foods. They contribute to increased weight, which then contributes to the development of heart disease. Doing so gets you one step closer to having a heart healthy lifestyle.

    Week 6: Focus on Fiber

    Dietary fiber, which can lower cholesterol and improve digestive health, can be found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Beans, peas, and lentils are good sources of fiber, too. Add them to canned soup or a green salad or create nachos with black beans, a ton of fresh vegetables, whole-wheat tortilla chips, and salsa. The good news is that these good sources of fiber are also rich in numerous vitamins and minerals that boost your overall health.

    Week 7: Work on Your Stress Levels

    People who are constantly angry or stressed have higher blood pressure spikes than those who aren’t, and these spikes can harm the heart. Hence, it’s crucial to be aware of stress and learn coping mechanisms.

    Meditation, which usually entails inward-focused thought and deep breathing, has been shown to lower heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure. Yoga, which is a close relative of meditation, can also help to relax the body and mind. Social support is also crucial, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with family and friends regularly.

    Also, please keep in mind that a balanced diet and exercise help support healthy immune function and cell regeneration, and it can provide you with the energy to deal with stressful situations.

    Week 8: Grocery Shopping? Read the Labels!

    Packed food items have vital nutrition information on their labels. By paying attention to these Nutrition Facts, you can better ensure that you eat healthily. As much as possible, buy fresh ingredients and prepare meals from scratch to have more control over the amount of fat, sugar, and salt that goes into your food as well as the amount of preservatives.

    Likewise, when eating out, try to eat as healthily as you would at home. Ask your server about food preparation. Whenever possible, avoid ordering foods with cream sauces, cheese sauces, or that have been fried. Instead, choose dishes that have been broiled, steamed, or stir-fried. Be aware of the calories, fats, and sugars in the food you order.

    Key Takeaways

    It may not be possible to have a heart healthy lifestyle right away, so why not do it week by week? The important thing here is to start now. The sooner you begin habits that boost and protect your heart, the better. Of course, don’t forget that you can always talk to your doctor if some things are not clear.

    Learn more about Heart Health here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel Updated 2 weeks agoMedically reviewed by Lauren Labrador, MD, FPCP, DPCC
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