“Our diet is the great beginning,” explains Dr. Isabel Egocheaga, head of the Cardiovascular Area of the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG). “The Mediterranean diet promotes a high consumption of fruits and vegetables, few processed foods, and avoids trans fats. On the other hand, we need to monitor certain risk factors such as blood glucose levels, cholesterol, or blood pressure as well as weight and take action on them (…) Moreover, we need to manage stress adequately and ensure proper rest. Sleep hygiene is very important: one must sleep the adequate hours. Consume as little alcohol as possible and avoid tobacco.”
If we pepper our day and our lives with moments of well-being for our heart, it will aid us to live longer and better. We propose 8 ideas, routines, or habits that you can incorporate into your life starting today.
ENJOY A HANDFUL OF NUTS AND DRIED FRUITS DAILY.
“Nuts, especially walnuts, contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols, and phytosterols, which help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood,” advises expert Gemma Chiva-Blanch, associate professor and researcher at the Health Sciences Studies of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).
WALK DAILY BETWEEN 35 AND 40 MINUTES AT SUNSET.
According to José Luis Zamorano, vice president of the European Society of Cardiology and head of the Cardiology Service at Hospital Ramón y Cajal, it’s the exercise we can do every day to keep our heart healthy and fit. “Lipid metabolism primarily occurs at night so, that evening walk will improve my physical capacity, my metabolism, my hypertension…,” he points out.
INSTEAD OF HAVING ANOTHER COFFEE, ORDER A GREEN TEA.
“Green tea is rich in polyphenols, which have many heart-healthy properties. It’s a good idea to replace a daily coffee with green tea, or simply add it to your diet. Green tea consumption is widely associated with a lower cardiovascular risk,” says professor Gemma Chiva-Blanch.
LISTEN TO MUSIC FOR A WHILE EVERY DAY.
Scientifically, it’s been shown that music makes the blood flow better. It also lowers heart rate, decreases blood pressure and cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and increases serotonin and endorphin levels in the blood. Sound processing begins in the brainstem, which also controls heart rate and breathing. “This connection might explain why relaxing music can reduce heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, and seems to alleviate pain, stress, and anxiety,” explains Harvard neurologic music therapist Brian Harris.
READ THE LABELS OF THE PRODUCTS YOU BUY AT THE SUPERMARKET.
“It’s very important that we learn to read product labels in the market because when food includes processed fats it means we’ll have more cholesterol in our arteries,” says Dr. Isabel Egocheaga, head of the Cardiovascular Area of the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG).
CHOOSE THE STAIRS, NOT THE ELEVATOR.
“We are increasingly aware that having strong and large muscle mass protects us from heart attacks. Besides the classic cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, diabetes, cholesterol, etc.), which are important, there are other risk factors we are not paying attention to, like sarcopenia, which is having weak and poor muscle mass,” explains renowned cardiologist José Abellán. We need to incorporate strength exercise into our daily lives. “This doesn’t mean lifting 100 kg. Working on strength is as simple as sitting in a chair and standing up 10 times in a row, working with your own weight,” he adds.
GIVE THANKS EVERY DAY.
“For me, gratitude is the intimate friend of joy, the vaccine against pessimism and negativity, and the loyal sister of generosity. Both sisters keep us afloat during life’s adverse storms and the optimistic spirit, by helping us focus on the positive things around us,” says Laura Rojas Marcos, a doctor in psychology and health. “(…) I believe that both gratitude and generosity are the teachers that show us the good side of life. In the words of Lao Tse: ‘Gratitude is the memory of the heart’.”
SLEEP YOUR 7 OR 8 HOURS EVERY DAY.
The quantity and quality of our sleep are essential for good cardiovascular health. “Restful sleep improves endothelial function and helps lower blood pressure because, while we sleep, there’s muscle relaxation that also affects the arteries. This relaxation causes a physiological drop in blood pressure of between 10% and 15%, for example,” according to the Spanish Heart Society. However, sleeping little or poorly is associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis.”
Article based on the one published by Telva on “How to create 8 moments of well-being for your heart, according to top experts.”