For American Heart Month: Habits That Harm Or Hurt Your Heart
It’s American Heart Month and a good time to evaluate your daily habits to see how they improve (or harm) your heart health. Did you know that over 600,000 people die in America each year from heart disease? And while not all pass away from them, over 700,000 Americans have heart attacks each year. Anyone who has ever suffered a cardiac event can tell you that you should hope to never have one. Our heart is one of our most important organs. It pumps blood to our entire body. Some may say it’s the epicenter of our systems. And yet, you’re likely guilty of keeping up a few habits that aren’t so great for that thing beating in your chest. We may think it’s just one time or it’s just one burger, but if we tell ourselves that enough, habits add up, and become problems. For American Heart Month, here’s a look at habits that help and harm your heart.
Harm: Sitting for too long (even if you workout)
You may think that by hitting the gym for an hour each night, you make up for sitting for eight or nine consecutive hours a day. But no amount of exercise can make that much sitting okay. Being sedentary for extended periods, regularly, can increase one’s blood fat and blood sugar levels.
Help: Short but frequent exercise
As the last point mentioned, long sedentary periods are harmful. The good news is, you don’t need to work out a lot to help your heart. The body builders and marathoners you see out there are going above and beyond. Simply going on a few 15 to 20 minute walks a day will help your heart.
Harm: Staying mad
No matter how right you were in that fight, or what a jerk the other person was, holding onto anger could ultimately make you the loser of the dispute. Why? Because anger issues become stress and stress on your body is bad for your heart.
Help: Laugh and talk it out
Having plenty of laughter in your life can help you counter act some of that anger. It’s hard to stay mad if you’re giggling, right? If you can’t resolve every little dispute with the actual person you’re fighting with, having a therapist can be very helpful. That gives you a safe place to work out (and release) your anger.
Harm: Neglecting oral health
Failing to floss not only puts you in the dentist’s chair for some expensive fillings—it can also harm your heart health. It’s believed that the bacteria on plaque can cause inflammation in the body, which can harm your heart.
Help: Keep up with cleanings
Don’t ignore your dentist’s calls to come back in for a cleaning. Deep cleanings can prevent serious bacterial buildup. And whatever homework your dentist gives you, do it.
Sure, you’ve heard that a glass of red wine is good for the heart, but do you only drink one glass? Once you pop that bottle, it’s easy to take nearly the whole thing down, right? Unfortunately, drinking too much (more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women) has been linked to higher blood pressure and high blood sugar.
Help: Drinking lots of water
Swap that boozy drink out for water at dinner. Those who meet their H2O requirements face a lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack than those who fall short of them.
Harm: Keeping the extra pounds
When your doctor or family suggests you lose weight, you may turn up your nose, and accuse them of subscribing to harsh beauty standards for women. But maybe they aren’t being snobs: being overweight can greatly increase your chances of heart disease. Belly fat is the most dangerous kind, too, so if you need more reason to lose the tummy, now you have it.
Help: Adding fish
If you want to remove unhealthy fats as an attempt to lose excess weight, swap in healthy fats, like those found in salmon. Having fish twice a week can reduce your chances for heart disease by nearly 30 percent.
Harm: Trusting the mirror
If you’re in good shape—aesthetically—you may believe you have nothing to worry about. But even slim individuals can have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol—all of which put one at risk for heart disease. So have these figures checked regularly by your doctor.
Help: Getting your folic acid
Did you know that being low on folic acid can increase your chances of heart disease? Consider taking a supplement or eating foods high in the stuff like breakfast cereal, spinach, and orange juice.
Harm: Having processed meat
Processed meat is always the easiest choice when you’re in a hurry. But the roast beef sandwiches, salami paninis, and kiosk hot dogs can add up quickly. Processed meat and red meat, respectively, can increase one’s risk of coronary disease.
Help: Grub on these red foods
Watermelon and tomatoes. These are both high in lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant that is good for your heart. Watermelon is actually higher in the stuff, so be sure to add that to your next shopping list.
Harm: Not watching your sodium intake
High sodium intake can quickly lead to high blood pressure, which is bad for your heart. You know there’s a lot of salt in the obvious foods, like chips and fries, but don’t forget to check the content on things like jarred sauce and canned soup.