Your heart and cardiovascular system are the most important parts of your body. Keeping your heart healthy is essential to ensuring your body runs smoothly. In this post, we’ll touch base on some diet and exercise tips.
In terms of how to improve your heart health, it starts with the right diet and exercise that specifically focuses on your cardiovascular system. It’s not just shedding pounds and looking good. It’s about feeling good and increasing your longevity.
This guide has all the tips your heart needs. From exercises to make your heart stronger to foods that will boost your cardiovascular health, and everything in between.
Does Diet Affect My Heart?
Your heart is the fuel pump for the rest of your body – its job is to get oxygen and nutrients everywhere they need to go. If you eat poorly, not only will you gain weight which will make your heart need to do more work, but some foods actually make your blood harder for your heart to push.
A healthy diet can greatly reduce the amount of stress you put on your heart and other organs. By choosing healthier foods, you’ll reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease.
Foods to Help Heart Health
If you’re looking to add heart-healthy foods to your shopping list, we have you covered. This list highlights some of the most important heart-healthy nutrients you should have in your diet. And a few foods that will give you the best bang for your buck.
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oil
- Peanut butter
- Sunflower seeds
- Wild salmon
- Chia Seeds
Complex carbohydrates high in fiber:
- Whole-grain bread
- Brown rice
Fruits and vegetables:
Other sources of protein and fiber:
When eating dairy or animal products:
Choose low-fat versions of your favorite foods, meat without skin, lean cuts, and limit the amount of eggs and cheese you’re eating.
Cardiac Foods to Avoid
On the other side of the coin, there are many foods and substances that can cause or worsen existing heart problems that you should avoid or only eat in moderation if you want the healthiest heart possible.
While these foods are difficult to avoid altogether, being mindful of how much you’re eating can dramatically improve your heart health.
- Processed and packaged meals
- Cured meats
- Chips, pretzels, and other snack foods
- Canned soups
- Soda and energy drinks
- Sweetened coffee or tea
- Cake, ice cream, and candy
- Jelly and syrup
- The skin of poultry
- Fatty meats
- Whole-milk dairy
- Lard, butter, and coconut oils
- Coffee creamers
- Microwave popcorn
- Frozen pizza
- Margarine and shortening
Drinks to Avoid
In terms of drinks, it’s important to remember the no-added-sugar rule. This includes sodas, energy drinks, juices, tea, or coffee that has a lot of added sugar.
Too much alcohol should also be avoided. By drinking an excess of alcohol, you can raise your blood pressure, which may cause weight gain or even have heart failure.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women.
For clarification: one drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of a spirit.
Eating heart-healthy foods rich in fiber and exercises that get your blood flowing will do wonders to improve your cardiovascular system.
How Does Exercise Help Your Heart?
If you’re looking for ways on how to make the heart stronger, exercise is going to be your best bet. Exercise will keep your heart stronger and also keep your weight down.
With each heartbeat, more blood will pump to your heart. More oxygen then flows through your body, and the more oxygen your body has, the better.
Exercise will lower your:
- Blood pressure,
- Levels of LDL (which is the bad cholesterol),
- And also your risk of heart disease.
Exercise will raise your:
- Levels of good HDL that clears fatty deposits from your arteries and protects against heart attacks.
What Exercise Strengthens Your Heart?
To strengthen your heart, focus on exercises that increase your breathing and get your heart and blood pumping. Aerobic exercise or cardio is where you’ll feel the greatest impact.
This includes activities like:
- Walking and jogging/running
- Dancing and kickboxing
- Bicycling and swimming
These can all help with pre-existing conditions and also help keep heart disease at bay.
There are simple exercises you can do for free on a daily basis that’ll make a big difference over time. Just by walking or biking to work, taking the stairs, or going for a quick jog each day can be enough to see significant improvements in your cardiovascular health.
The Mayo Clinic recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of more intense activity every day in order to stay in top physical shape.
How to Improve Cardiovascular Health
If you’re ready to kick off your journey to a healthier heart, start with your diet and exercise routine. Eating heart-healthy foods rich in fiber and exercises that get your blood flowing will do wonders to improve your cardiovascular system.
Your heart is one of the most important organs you have. If you treat it well, you’ll see a significant improvement in how you feel for many years to come. It will also help extend the time you have with those who matter most, so these diet and exercise tips should benefit you.
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About the writer
Director of Creative Strategy
Greg is Quotacy’s senior content strategist. He has an eclectic past from working on movie scripts to creating ad campaigns for major brands. His love of creative solutions drove him to strategy, and he now uses his powers to help families protect their loved ones. Outside of work, Greg spends his time off the grid hunting, fishing, camping, biking, hiking, and walking his dogs.