Healthy Hearts

by Gayle Cottrill

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The heart is one of our most vital organs, and it’s imperative we do what we can to keep it as healthy as can be, not only to try to prevent heart disease, but also to help us live our lives to the fullest.

Here are some of the most important things you can do to help your heart:


A heart is a muscle, as well as an organ, and that means giving it a regular workout can actually keep it in shape. The American Heart Association recommends that adults “Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity.” It’s also important to spend less time sitting. If you have a sedentary job, even light movement is better than none. Set an alarm on your phone or a fitness band to remind you to get moving every hour or two.

Eat less fat

While certain fats are good for you and can help boost your “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL), most of us don’t watch what fats we’re ingesting. Try to avoid eating trans fat and keep your saturated fat intake to 5% of your daily calorie intake. Avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils like olive, vegetable, or canola are healthy fats. Low-fat proteins like eggs, poultry, fish, tofu, and legumes are better choices than fatty red meat.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

It seems like the thing that makes every list related to healthy living choices is eating more fruits and vegetables. That’s because they are full of natural nutrients that our bodies need to function and stay energized. Many also are good sources of fiber which helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Some of the top fruits and vegetables for a healthy heart are leafy greens, berries, avocados, tomatoes, beans, kiwi, and broccoli.

Don’t smoke

The chemicals inhaled through cigarette smoke go straight to your lungs which is then sent to your heart and in turn your blood cells and arteries. Cigarette smoke can cause damage to your blood vessels and cause a buildup of plaque in your arteries which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Smoking can also cause your blood to thicken, and combined with smaller passageways for the blood to flow, this can lead to an increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, and even death. Smoking can be a tough habit to break, but it could just save your life.

Manage your stress

According to the American Heart Association, there isn’t a direct link between stress and heart disease, however, the negative impacts of stress can lead to problems that create a greater risk of heart disease even when not stress-induced. Finding ways to reduce our stress is important for all aspects of our health, which means it’s important for our hearts, too.

Talk to your health provider

Even if you feel you are a healthy individual, it is important to have regular checkups with a healthcare professional. When it comes to heart disease, you may still be at risk even if you live a very healthy lifestyle. If you know your risk of heart disease, you will be better equipped to protect yourself.