Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, but most guys rarely give it a second thought. It’s there, beating away in your chest like it always has and (hopefully) always will.But improving heart health is more important than you might think. Roughly half of all Americans suffer from some sort of heart disease.But, that’s not all. Heart disease causes approximately one-third of all of deaths in the U.S.Fortunately guys, heart disease isn’t all that difficult to avoid. With or without a genetic history of heart disease in your family, it boils down to staying active, eating right, and reducing stress.That’s why we’ve prepared these 12 heart-healthy tips that have been proven effective for improving heart health and increasing a man’s longevity.
The first tip on how to take care of your heart is a simple one, but most guys just don’t do it. Drinking water has countless benefits, but most of the population walks around dehydrated every day.
For starters, drinking more water (especially first thing in the morning) can help you feel full and satisfied, which helps to keep you from getting cravings and eating junky impulse foods. It also helps to flush out excess sodium that can impact your blood pressure and stress out your cardiovascular system.
Finally, it helps remove free radicals and environmental toxins from throughout your body that can seriously impact your heart and overall health.
Anybody who tells you how to take care of your heart is going to tell you to “exercise,” but not all of us want to hit the gym 3 times a week (and not all of us can!).
Instead, find activities that you find enjoyable and make a habit of doing them as often as possible. That could be walking around the neighborhood with your wife after work, hiking to your favorite fishing spot, or going on a bike ride with your kids.
The point is to get your heart rate up and keep it up for 20-60 minutes every other day (or every day if possible). If you used to enjoy the gym, grab a buddy and make a plan to go every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to catch up and get healthy together.
Wait, read this one carefully!
Before you skim the heading and tear off in search of a snack, let us clarify what we mean by “more.” When we say that eating more is a path to improving heart health, we mean eating more healthy foods.
Trying to tell someone to eat less of the foods they love isn’t going to make us any friends, so instead we’re going to recommend you eat more healthy foods instead. Don’t focus on eating less of your favorite snacks or treats.
Put your focus on eating more fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, and lean meats instead. That way you’ll be training yourself to enjoy these healthy foods and rewarding your willpower with some of your favorites afterward.
For example, make sure you have a salad and veggie dish on your plate for every dinner and that you eat those first. Then you can dive into that twice-baked potato and T-bone steak. The goal is that you’ll be filled up by the salad and veggies and either way, you'll be giving your body the important nutrients it needs to maintain your heart health.
Finally, don't force yourself to eat healthy foods you hate. You’ll end up unhappy, and unhappy people don't stick to their health goals. Instead, eat the things you like. If you love fruit, eat lots of them and don’t let anybody tell you they have “too much sugar.” They’re packed with nutrients and the water and fiber they contain means they don’t spike your insulin.
One of the easiest tips for improving heart health is to get outside more. Fresh air and sunshine help to reduce stress hormones, make positive use of the cholesterol stored in your skin, and promote the release of nitric oxide which reduces your blood pressure. Plus, being outside means you’re more likely to be active and enjoy that activity.
Fat is an important macronutrient and very important for improving heart health. That said, it’s important that you know your fats. Processed trans fats are extremely unhealthy and should be avoided as much as possible. Fats are the building blocks for your hormones (which tell everything in your body what to do) and trans fats can mix up those messages and cause all sort of problems, including raising your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.
Instead, focus on getting healthy natural fats in your diet. Olive oil, whole avocados, wild caught fish, and raw nuts are a few good examples. That said, you don’t have to avoid animal fats altogether.
If you like your cream or butter, enjoy it, just make sure it comes from free-range animals that aren't treated with hormones or antibiotics. Organic free-range eggs are a great choice too! Concerned about cholesterol? Stay tuned for tip number 8.
Alright guys, nobody likes to be told that they need to lose weight. No matter what your scale says, excess weight puts extra strain on the cardiovascular system and leads to plaque buildup in the arteries.
Virtually every tip listed here will help you lose weight, so if you’re ready to drop a few pounds as a way of improving heart health, simply follow the advice found in this article.
Some guys sleep like hibernating bears, but some of us sleep poorly and don’t think much of it. If you’re one of those men, focusing on improving your sleep can actually help you improve heart health as well.
Studies have shown that those who sleep a full 7-9 hour night have less calcium in their blood than those who sleep 6 or less hours. Also, inadequate sleep is a trigger for increased hunger and typically the kind of snacking that goes against the advice listed in this article.
Focus on getting enough rest and you’ll likely eat better and reduce the stress that negatively impacts your heart health.
There’s an inaccurate assumption that consuming dietary cholesterol is what leads to high blood serum cholesterol. We say that it’s inaccurate because dietary cholesterol has been the scapegoat for what is largely caused by processed carbohydrates.
When you eat a high glycemic load (lots of carbs), especially in a processed form that is faster to digest and enter the bloodstream, your pancreas goes into overdrive and releases excessive cholesterol into the bloodstream.
You can find more on this myth in this article by Scientific American.
The point here is to reduce the consumption of processed foods in general, as they typically contain all of the nasty ingredients that leads to negative impact on your heart health.
“Stress, the silent killer.”
You’ve heard it before, but stress can cause serious harm to your mental AND physical state. Think of stress as akin to inflammation in the body. It can be present around the clock without presenting life-changing symptoms, but all the while doing damage. Reducing and avoid stress is one of the most positive tips for improving heart health because it can also improve other areas of your life.
Take the time to do something for yourself every day that allows you to destress. That could be a walk down by the lake with headphones playing your favorite music. It could be lunch with a friend just to chat about what’s going on in town. It could be an afterwork softball league to have fun while getting healthy exercise and being outside.
This tip puts many of the other tips for improving heart health into one neat little package. By eating at home more you can focus on eating more healthy foods, drinking more water, reducing stress, eating healthy fats, and reducing processed carbs all in one fell swoop.
We’re not talking about eating TV dinners on the couch while you watch the news though.
Instead, make eating at home a fun thing. If you’re not much of a cook, spend some quality time helping your significant other prepare healthy meals. Do some of the shopping together and invite the kids to join in. The point is to get to know your food, how it affects the body, and how to prepare it in a way you all enjoy.
Being healthy can be really fun, especially if you have others to enjoy it with.
One of the easiest ways to eat more healthy foods is to keep them in sight. Get a big fruit bowl and keep your fruit on the kitchen counter to replace the snacks you would normally seek out. Same goes for your fridge, guys. Stick the less healthy items further back and the healthier items toward the front.
It may sound like an overly simple tactic to improve heart health, but try it. If you’re wired the way most guys are, you’ll grab something that's easy and within reach before you rearrange the fridge or the cupboards trying to get to something less healthy.
Hear us out.
Taking on extra chores may not sound like a great idea on our end, but it comes with plenty of benefits. First, you'll be moving around a lot more and that activity is good for your heart. Sweeping the driveway is more productive than walking on the treadmill at the gym, and lifting bags of mulch leaves will yield a nicer yard than lifting weights in the gym.
Your heart will thank you, plus you’ll feel accomplished for doing all of those things you’ve been meaning to do for weeks, months, or years.
When it comes down to it, improving heart health isn’t all that complicated. It’s a matter of eating better, being more active, and reducing stress. Get those close to you involved in achieving your health goals and it will be far easier to stick to them.
Also, be sure to keep regular track of your heart health. Go see your doctor on a regular basis and you’ll know exactly what kind of impact you’re having on your heart health as you watch the numbers move in the right direction.
Calotren is here to help (click here to see how), but for now, here’s to your health!