Heart-healthy Lifestyle: Some Crucial Aspects
Our heart is one of the most vital organs that beats 24 hours a day to keep us alive. It’s essential to treat it like any other valuables. It works never-resting: for some people, it performs so well for so long, but for many, it can fail to function properly due to poor diet and lack of exercise, smoking, poor genes, infection, and more.
Heart disease is a life-threatening condition that emerges when fat, cholesterol and other substances in the blood builds up inside the coronary arteries. This deposition restricts blood flow to the heart’s chambers, leading to heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death.
However, a person can prevent or slow down heart-related problems just by bringing in a few lifestyle changes. Such positive changes include staying healthy, maintaining or losing weight, incorporating a balanced diet, managing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and quit smoking and limiting alcohol.
What food to consume to ensure a healthy heart?
- Green leafy vegetables: Spinach, kale, and other green veggies are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the green vegetables are a great source of vitamin K and dietary nitrates that can help reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function. According to various studies, by increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables, you can lower the risk of heart disease.
- Walnuts & Beans: Consuming a small handful of walnuts a day may reduce your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, decrease oxidative stress and protect against inflammation in your heart’s arteries. Yes, walnuts are packed with omega-3s and a great source of fiber and micronutrients. Whereas, black beans are full of heart-healthy nutrients. You should add it to soups and salad.
- Whole grains: Whole grains such as whole wheat, oats, brown rice, barley, rye, and quinoa are high-fiber foods, which can help reduce bad LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.
- Berries: Berries such as strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry are full of antioxidants, which can help to reduce heart disease by protecting against oxidative stress and inflammation. Being a low-fat food, it is a rich source of iron, vitamin A & C, and calcium.
- Chia & Flaxseeds: These seeds are a great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids & fiber. Numerous studies have found that incorporating these seeds into your diet can help lower the level of triglycerides and keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
Besides these, you can also add so many other food items as well, such as dark chocolate, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, olive oil, green tea, fresh herbs, and more, to keep your heart in good shape.
Best Cardio Exercises and Yoga Poses to Boost Heart Health
Being physically active is another crucial aspect of good heart health.
Aerobic for a healthy heart
Aerobics or cardio exercises involve activities that get your blood pumping and ensure contraction of large muscle groups to get your heart beating faster. Adding such exercises can benefit you in several ways. Read on-
- It strengthens your heart
- Enhance oxygen flow throughout the body
- Lower cholesterol
- Increase workout efficiency
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes
- Helps regulate blood sugar levels
- Promotes better sleep
- Boost immunity system
- Helps to maintain weight
Ideally, performing cardio activities at least 30 minutes a day can help you significantly improve your metabolism and overall health. Some common cardio exercise includes running, brisk walking, swimming, cycling, playing outdoor games, jumping, and so on.
Yoga poses for heart health
Doing regular yoga can provide several health and mental benefits. It is known for improving flexibility and balance, but did you know that yoga can also promote good cardiovascular health? This ancient practice involves holding and moving through series of postures. Here are some asanas for boosting cardiac health and keeping heart problems at bay.
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose): It involves standing straight on the ground and keeping feet slightly apart. Then, turn the wrist outwards, inhale, and raise the arms up. Make sure the arms should be in line with the shoulders. Raise the heels off the floor. Hold the position for 3-4 minutes and repeat it 4-5 times. It’s the easiest post but can do wonders. It enhances blood circulation, relieves tension, strengthens the vertebral column and the heart.
- Vrikshasana (Tree Pose): The tree pose is like standing straight on the floors, bringing both hands in the front and joining the palms, just like doing a prayer. Now stretch both your arms up while keeping the palms joined. Bend your right knee and place the right foot on the left thigh (on the interior side). Keep your left leg straight. This posture improves the spinal column and balancing capabilities. Practicing this regularly improves blood circulation and prevents heart diseases.
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose): Stand straight with your feet comfortably wide apart. Inhale and raise your right hand and keep the right arm parallel to the right ear. Exhale and bend your torso at the waist to your left side while your left hand comes down towards the floor. Rest your left hand on your ankle or the floor outside your left foot. Stretch your right arm towards the sky in line with your shoulder. Slightly turn your head up, eyes gazing softly at the right palm. This pose strengthens your body parts and stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine. It promotes cardiovascular health and helps improve digestion.
Besides these, you can also practice other yoga asanas, like Utthita Hastapadasana, Virabhadrasana (Warrior pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), and more. It would be best to perform yoga under the guidance of experts, especially if you’re a beginner.
Hope this guide can help to keep you and your heart healthy.