by Caitlin H,
Feb 27, 2023
If ever there was a part of your body that you should pay attention to and care for, it’s your heart. Our hearts are the prime laborer of our bodies, beating an average of 80 times per minute, 115,200 a day, and more than 42 million times a year!
February is American Heart Month, an annual observance of the importance of focusing on cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association and all health providers use the month to remind us to engage in healthy habits that lessen heart disease risk.
The primary risk factors for cardiovascular disease are:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Abnormal blood sugar/glucose levels
- Low physical activity
- Poor diet
- High weight
That’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) identifies eight essential elements to consider to improve your own heart health. Read on to learn more!
If there was one element that really takes the cake for importance when it comes to heart health, it’s eating a wholesome, well-rounded diet. Foods with high levels of sugar, saturated fat, and sodium can wreak havoc on your health (and waistline!). In contrast, consuming primarily whole foods like nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins can work wonders for you. Our Mediterranean Diet meal plan makes eating these foods easy and delicious, with heart-healthy meals delivered right to your door.
Listen, we get it. Going to the gym several times a week or pounding the pavement in running shoes may not be your particular cup of tea. That’s okay. The key is to get some exercise each week, aiming for 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of intense activity. That can be anything from walking, playing a sport, participating in a fitness class—and everything in between. Find something you enjoy doing and make it a priority, just like going to work or attending a meeting. Doing it regularly will soon make it a habit, and your heart will thank you.
3) No Nicotine
According to the AHA, using nicotine is the “leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., including a third of all deaths from heart disease.” Put down the pack of cigarettes or vaping devices for good. If you need support, Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking is an excellent method for quitting.
You may be all too familiar with the achy, tired feeling you get after a poor night’s sleep. Sleep is a critical factor for heart health, with experts recommending the average adult get about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Turn off all devices at least 30 minutes before bed. Meditate before lying down. Keep a cool room. All these things can go a long way toward improving your sleep duration and quality. (Get more sleeping tips from us here.)
Besides feeling and looking better, maintaining a healthy weight is also vital for your heart health. You can check your own weight health using the body mass index (BMI) calculator, a numerical weight value relative to height. If you’re out of the healthy range, a healthy meal delivery service like Diet-to-Go can support you in getting there. You can even use our Free Diet Analysis to find the meal plan that’s right for you.
6) Cholesterol Control
No matter what you weigh, there’s still a chance you could have high cholesterol levels. High levels of bad cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular issues. Check with your doctor about getting an appointment to measure your cholesterol levels, and then talk to them about what steps you can take to improve it.
7) Blood Sugar Levels
Our bodies turn the majority of the foods we eat daily into glucose, which our bodies use as fuel to give us energy. Unfortunately, eating foods with too much sugar can start to wear on our bodies over time, damaging many essential organs. Talk to your doctor about testing your glucose levels and monitoring A1c levels to help prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
8) Blood Pressure Management
High blood pressure is a major no-no when it comes to heart health. Unfortunately, many of us don’t even know we have it. You can purchase a blood pressure monitor at retailers like Amazon to check your blood pressure regularly. Acceptable ranges are levels less than 120/80. If you’re regularly seeing anything higher than 130-139/0-89, it’s time to check with your doctor about treatment options.
Improving your heart health is more than possible by taking action to manage these eight essential elements. Don’t delay in taking action and potentially adding years to your life!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.