Monday, February 27, 2012

Health: 8 Ways to a Healthy Heart

8 Ways to a Healthy Heart 

Eat White Fruits & Veggies   

An apple a day really can keep the doctor away -- and so can pears, bananas, cauliflower and mushrooms. According to a new study published in the medical journal Stroke, consuming fruits and vegetables with white flesh can lower your risk of stroke by 52 percent. The study followed participants over a 10-year period, and found that for every 25 grams of white-fleshed produce consumed, subjects lowered their stroke risk by 9 percent. Since one apple is about 120 grams, eating one a day can bring your risk down significantly.

Re-Think the Meat You Eat

You may think staying away from meat is helping your heart, but you may want to reconsider -- or at least change -- the type of meat you are eating. Carnosine, an amino acid found in wild game meats (think venison), is essential for healthy-heart function and may help prevent plaque buildup in your arteries, says Khader. “Carnosine can prevent sympathetic nervous system activity that causes hypertension, and its antioxidant properties protect heart muscle directly against toxins such as chemotherapy agents that promote serious risks to heart tissue.” To reap the heart-healthy benefits of carnosine, Kader recommends consuming wild fish three times a week, alternating with bison, deer or wild turkey.

Get Moving

According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise has a direct and positive effect on your heart. Physical activity helps prevent the development of coronary artery disease and helps prevent and treat risk factors including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and obesity. Aim for 30 minutes of uninterrupted moderate or intense exercise daily, or a total of 150 minutes per week (including circuit weight training), recommends Scott Shurmur, M.D., Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Practice Happiness

A 2009 study found that happier people are less likely to develop heart disease a decade later. “Happiness is a skill that can be learned,” says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. According to Lombardo, to improve your level of happiness you need to learn application, gratitude and exercise. Apply your values and strengths to develop a life of meaning, practice gratitude and appreciation for what happens in your life, and get regular exercise. Research shows exercise is as effective (if not more so) than anti-depressant medications for people with depression, says Lombardo.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep every night, recommends Christine Thorpe, Ph.D., a certified wellness coach and health education specialist in Brooklyn, NY. “Recent research published in the European Heart Journal revealed that sleeping less than 6 hours at night on a consistent basis increases your risk for developing heart disease by 48 percent, and a lack of sleep causes hormonal imbalances that increase risk.”

Meditate for a Moment

Meditating for as little as 20 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and death by as much as 50 percent, according to a 2009 study. “Meditate for 15-20 minutes twice a day, to center your heart and mind,” recommends Thorpe. Try this simple meditation to get you started: Find a quiet place where you can sit alone for a few minutes. Close your eyes, slowly inhale and then exhale. Repeat several times until your breathing is at a slow, steady pace. Then on your exhale say “I am calm, centered, and balanced,” or “I live life to the fullest”. Repeat for 15 minutes to finish feeling relaxed, centered and calmer.

Steer Clear of the ‘3 S’s

You are what you eat. And what you eat has a big affect on your heart health, says cardiologist Peter McCullough, M.D., Chief of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. To help lower your weight and heart disease risk, he recommends staying away from the three S’s: Sugar, starch and saturated fat. Cut out empty calories from processed foods, sweets, soda and desserts and focus on adding high-quality protein such as fish, beans, nuts and unlimited fruits and vegetables.

Brush Up On Your Oral Health

You can keep your gums and your heart healthy with a daily routine of brushing and flossing, along with regular dental cleanings. “Some research suggests that gum disease may be a more serious risk factor for heart disease than high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, gender and age,” says Eugene Antenucci, D.D.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry and dentist in Huntington, NY. How exactly are your gums connected to your heart? “Bacteria present in infected gums can come loose and move throughout the body,” says Antenucci. “If bacteria reach the arteries, they can irritate them in the same way that they irritate gum tissue, which could cause arterial plaque to accumulate, causing hardening of the arteries and decreased or blocked blood flow, all of which can cause a heart attack. Arterial plaque can come loose and travel to other parts of the body, and if a blockage occurs in the brain, it can cause a stroke.”

Credit: My article includes only 8 tips for heart health from

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