It’s the last day of the National Heart Month in the United States of America! Since 1963, February has been celebrated as American Heart Month to raise awareness of heart disease, the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. The good news is, there are ways we can take control of our heart health and reduce our risks of heart disease.
Most people understand the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating for your heart, but here are some simple tips you might not have known about that can keep your heart healthy.
Eat some chocolate
- It turns out that dark chocolate can be both delicious AND nutritious! Just make sure it has a high cocoa content.
- Consuming dark chocolate in moderation can decrease oxidized LDL (“bad” cholesterol”) and increase HDL.
- Dark chocolate is also high in magnesium, which helps your heart, muscles, and kidneys.
Have more sex
- Besides improving your happiness and wellbeing, sex can also be good for your heart.
- American Journal of Cardiology researchers show that having a higher frequency of sexual activity (twice a week vs. once a month) can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- If you’re experiencing frequent performance issues in bed, talk to your doctor to see if you have erectile dysfunction.
Get a pet
- Pet owners, we can all agree that animals add immense joy to our everyday lives, but did you know they can help your heart health too?
- Research has shown that owning pets can reduce your risk of heart disease through improved physical activity and stress relief.
Brush your teeth regularly
- Dental hygiene isn’t just for looks — it impacts your overall health!
- Dental health is a good indication of overall health because those with periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease.
- People with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Ease your stress
- When you feel high amounts of stress or anxiety it can lead to adrenaline, which increases your heartbeat and breathing rate. Frequent adrenaline surges then lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
- To protect your heart, you can manage your stress by:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- Exercising regularly
- Having minimal alcohol and caffeine
Be more social
- Researchers have found that social isolation can hurt your heart even more than actually being alone as loneliness is a form of stress.
- You can stay socially active by:
- Reaching out to family or friends
- Joining a support group
- Signing up for a fitness or art class
- Adopting a pet
Celebrate Heart Month by incorporating some of these tips into your day to day life, or, use them as a checklist to see if you’re prioritizing your heart health. Take pride in even the smallest of victories and share them with the people you care about most. You’ll inspire them to join your lead and make lifestyle changes that prevent heart disease.