Living a long and happy life doesn’t need to be as hard as it sounds. It can be done with certain precautions and lifestyle changes. For example, did you know that the leading cause of death – not just in America, but the world – is heart disease?
Medical professionals use heart disease as an umbrella term for a range of cardiovascular conditions. These include coronary artery disease, irregular heartbeats, congenital heart defects, heart valve disease, and more.
While there are no guarantees, reducing your risk of heart disease with lifestyle changes can drastically increase your lifespan, along with the quality of your added years!
Below, we go over 7 things you can start doing today to improve your heart health and avoid heart disease.
1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet
We understand that this one goes without saying, but its importance cannot be overstated. So much of your heart’s health relies on what you’re putting into your body everyday.
A low fat, high-fiber diet is recommended. This should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Salt should be limited to no more than 6g (0.2oz or 1 teaspoon) a day as too much salt will increase your blood pressure.
When it comes to fats, there are two types – saturated and unsaturated.
You should avoid foods with saturated fats, as these will increase the levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol in your blood, which can cause complications. Foods high in saturated fats include meats, butter, lard, cream, cheese, cakes, and palm oil.
A balanced diet should include unsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, helping to reduce any blockage in your arteries. Foods high in unsaturated fats include fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Sugar is another thing you should avoid eating too much of, as sugar can increase your risk of developing diabetes, which significantly increases your risk of heart disease.
If you’re wondering which types of foods you should incorporate into your diet for increased heart health, just click here to read our blog on that very topic!
2. Be more physically active
A healthy diet mixed with exercise is the best way to maintain a healthy weight, which greatly reduces your chances of developing high blood pressure.
Regular exercise can also make your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient, lower levels of bad cholesterol, and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
On top of this, exercising regularly reduces your risk of having a heart attack. The heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, it benefits from exercise. A strong heart can pump more blood around your body with less effort.
You don’t have to be a pro athlete to get these benefits. Any exercise, including walking, swimming, or dancing makes your heart work harder, keeping it healthy.
3. Keep a healthy weight
What’s considered a healthy weight varies from person to person, but your doctor should be able to tell you what – based on your height and body size – a healthy weight should be for you.
Rapid weight gain due to eating unhealthy foods and a lack of movement can have dire effects on the health of your heart.
4. Quit smoking
If you smoke and give it up – or if you’ve quit in the past – then you’ve greatly reduced your risk of developing heart disease.
Smoking is a major risk factor for developing a common heart disease condition called atherosclerosis (plaque buildup within the arteries which typically leads to stroke or heart attack). Smoking also causes the majority of cases of coronary thrombosis in people under the age of 50 – a type of blood clot which restricts blood flow within the heart.
Kicking the habit will be difficult at first, but after a couple of weeks you’ll see clearly just how rough it was making you feel and the toll it was taking on your body.
5. Reduce alcohol consumption
At the time of drinking, alcohol can cause a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure. In the long-term, drinking above the guidelines can lead to ongoing increased heart rate, high blood pressure, weakened heart muscle, and irregular heartbeat.
It’s advised to not drink more than 14 drinks per week, and to spread these drinks over at least three days. You should also avoid binge drinking – consuming five or more drinks at one time – as this increases risk of heart attack.
If you drink regularly, consider cutting back or at least having drinks with a lower alcohol content.
6. Keep blood pressure under control
One of the most important things that can impact the health of your heart is blood pressure. As such, it’s important to keep it under control. Your target blood pressure should be below 140/90mmHg.
You can keep your blood pressure under control by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.
7. Get a good night’s rest
Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices.
Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both it’s important that you seek ways to help you have healthier sleeping patterns. Not only will this help your heart, but your mood and overall health!
Thankfully, nature offers us compounds that can help nourish and heal the heart.
Curcumin is one of these compounds.
Derived from the ancient turmeric root, curcumin has been supporting people’s health for thousands of years.
More recently, thousands of studies on the compound have demonstrated how it benefits human health, especially within the heart. 
Research has shown that curcumin can improve the health of the heart, with one study finding its effect on the endothelium to be as effective as exercise! [2, 3, 4]
The endothelium is what lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels. Endothelial cells release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction as well as enzymes that control blood clotting, immune function, and more.
Curcumin intake has been shown to support the health of these blood vessels, helping to regulate your heart. 
It’s also a major anti-inflammatory, which allows it to protect the heart. 
All of this is why experts believe that curcumin intake can greatly decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
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