Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle is not only about reducing your risk of heart disease. Since your blood vessels service your entire body, the changes you make can help reduce your risk of other serious conditions, such as stroke, pulmonary embolisms, and kidney disease. There are lifestyle changes that can have a significant impact on your cardiovascular health.
Look Beyond Salt Intake
Eating a low sodium diet is especially important if you have hypertension or have a strong family history of hypertension. Although eating a low sodium diet is important, it is not the only dietary component that affects your blood pressure. People with hypertension have a tendency to retain more fluid and salt, which contributes to electrolyte imbalances in the body. Make sure you are well hydrated, and if you have a tendency to retain fluid, you may want to consume extra fluids throughout the day. You are less likely to retain fluid if you stay hydrated.
Potassium is also important in the regulation of blood pressure. If you are taking an antihypertensive, speak with your doctor concerning the amount of potassium you can safely incorporate into your diet. Some antihypertensive medications can increase potassium levels and should not be combined with potassium supplements or a diet rich in potassium. Otherwise, incorporating high potassium foods, such as potatoes or bananas, can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
Focus on Endurance
Any safe exercise is bound to have benefits on your heart health and your waistline, but you should focus more on endurance exercises for cardiovascular health. If you are sedentary, start with low-intensity cardio, such as long-distance walking or jogging, to help build your endurance. As you become acclimated to exercise, increase the intensity or duration of your workouts. Although high-intensity exercises, such as high-intensity interval training (HITT), have many benefits, it is not appropriate for everyone. Depending on the current state of your health, such as your weight and cardiovascular risk factors, you may need medical supervision to ensure high-intensity workouts will not place unnecessary stress on your heart.
Rethink Your Fat & Cholesterol Intake
Many people are overly concerned about fat and cholesterol in their diet and they are avoiding foods that are not truly bad. Unless you have a significant medical problem that requires stringent dietary restrictions on fat and cholesterol, you might be doing more harm than good in your diet. The average person does not consume enough dietary cholesterol to make an impact on their cholesterol levels. Therefore, skipping the egg yolks is an unnecessary step in your diet. Not only is the amount of cholesterol trivial, you are eliminating valuable nutrients.
When you consider the amount of fat in a food, look at the bigger picture. Foods that are high in saturated fats are not good, but if you are too restrictive about them you are likely eliminating foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Additionally, a few additional grams of saturated fat may not be bad in relation to the amount of calories or other nutrients. For example, the average boneless, skinless chicken thigh is higher in total fat than a boneless, skinless chicken breast. However, there are only two additional grams of saturated fat when choosing the chicken thigh. The remaining difference in total fat is comprised of healthier, unsaturated fats.
There are many underlying causes of inflammation, such as lifestyle factors, genetics, and medical conditions. Unfortunately, inflammation, no matter its underlying cause, can directly or indirectly affect your heart and blood vessels. You can use food to reduce inflammation and improve your heart health. Some additions to your diet might include garlic, ginger, and turmeric, which are popular spices with anti-inflammatory benefits. The omega-3s found in fatty fish act as an anti-inflammatory and ideally should be part of your diet once or twice each week.
Making lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart and blood vessel disease is more complex than simply exercising and eating a healthier diet. Specific and consistent lifestyle changes can have long-term benefits on your cardiovascular health. For more information, contact services like Billings Clinic.