Lifestyle changes to make for a healthier heart
Believe it or not, you don't have to overhaul your entire life to make changes that will benefit your heart. Try adding a few of these lifestyle tips to your day-to-day plan, and you can feel good knowing you're giving your heart a little extra go-power!
Switch -- don't ditch -- your fats
Fats get a bad rap, but the right fats are actually quite heart-healthy. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon, tuna and walnuts are essential for total health -- they cut down on inflammation, which can lead to heart disease. Fats are also filling, so eating healthier fats in limited quantities can actually help prevent overeating.
Rather than ditching fats altogether, switch saturated fats for mono- or polyunsaturated fats found primarily in plant sources. Choose olive oil, avocado, nuts and beans as healthier sources of fat, and supplement them with two servings of fatty fish each week to boost your omega-3 intake.
Exercise your funny bone
Know who loves a good laugh? You and your heart! According to Dr. Michael Miller from the University of Maryland Medical Center, studies show that laughter truly is the best medicine. In fact, there are some indications that meal-time laughter can prevent unhealthy rises in blood sugar. So, break out the joke book at your next family meal to show your heart some love.
Love your leafy greens
There's no way around it -- your heart needs a well-balanced diet in order to receive all the nutrients and antioxidants it needs to remain fit and healthy. Commit to eating at least five servings of fruits and veggies daily. It sounds like a lot, but you'd be surprised how easy it can be. Add a heaping side salad to your dinner, grab a single-serving veggie juice for your morning commute, get through the mid-morning slump with a banana and toss blueberries on top of your cereal or yogurt. Little changes and additions can really add up when you turn to them consistently.
Add extra activity
The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that all adults receive at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week to remain healthy. If you're already thinking you don't have 30 free minutes in your day, that's okay. You don't have to get all your activity in at once. Try taking three 10-minute breaks during your workday to walk around your office complex or run up and down the stairs. Look for small ways to add activity to your day -- you could do lunges while you wait for your microwave lunch to cook or do a wall squat while brushing your teeth. In a perfect world, you could set aside an hour or more to dedicate to exercise, but since the world's not perfect, fit it in where you can!