You may ask yourself, “What factors play a role in maintaining a healthy heart?” There are many, but the good news is, YOU have control over almost all of them! Aside from genetics, cardiovascular exercise, nutrition, alcohol consumption, and smoking/tobacco use are the main agents that influence your heart health. Specifically, staying active will help prevent obesity, decrease blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol, improve blood sugar control, and make that heart of yours nice and strong! Developing good eating habits such as avoiding processed foods, limiting sugar intake, and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables will aid in sustaining adequate blood flow by decreasing the risk of hypertension and lowering LDL cholesterol.
Eating foods lower in sodium and limiting alcohol consumption to 1–2 drinks daily can help lower blood pressure as well. Finally, abstain from smoking or using tobacco and make an effort to spend time in smoke-free environments whenever possible. Consciously following these simple guidelines or making small changes to work towards them will ensure longevity and a thriving heart. Happy Heart Healthy Month everyone!