To strengthen a muscle you have to challenge it. That’s as true of the heart muscle as it is any muscle in the body. You will burn fat, tone your muscles and condition your cardiovascular system! For a heart healthy circuit, read on…
With its focus on breathing, yoga is heart healthy because it’s good for the respiratory system and the overall cardiovascular system in the body. That’s true of yoga at either end of the scale; from hatha and power yoga to exercise the heart to yin yoga to rest the heart. Some poses pump up and strengthen the heart. Others relax the system. For more on heart healthy yoga, ask your yoga instructor, personal trainer or visit www.purica.com
There are so many reasons to stay hydrated for overall body, brain and heart health. Taking good care of your heart is one of the most important. Drinking enough water helps the heart pump blood more easily through the arteries in the body and helps the muscles and other tissues work more efficiently. Drink at least one litre a day and more with exercise. Specific conditions such as diabetes and cystic fibrosis may also require more water in your system. Consult your physician when in doubt.
Packed with protein, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and other nuts are good for your heart, especially when they replace less healthy snacks. By going nuts, you can lower bad cholesterol levels because of how high they are in the good (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats. Raw nuts are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, Vitamin E, plant sterols and L-Arginine, all of which either reduce bad cholesterol or improve the health of your arteries. Go nuts, but like with anything, eat in moderation.
Laughter is the best medicine. It’s one of the oldest sayings. Researchers believe the benefits are related to how laughing and a sense of humour appear to reduce mental stress, high levels of which can affect the protective lining in our blood vessels and in turn lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in our arteries. So as part of your heart healthy regimen, check out the nearest comedy club. If you watch TV, pick a sitcom or a funny video or movie. Laugh it up with your friends. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Bottom line: Live light-hearted. It’s good for you!
Deep abdominal breathing helps you relax. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces stress; all good for the heart. What’s even better is that slow, deep breathing activates the diaphragm and helps move a lot of blood through the body. That helps take some of the workload off of the heart, great for the short and long term.
If you’re going to snack during the big game, go heart healthy. At the coin toss, try unsalted sunflower seeds or nuts such as almonds or walnuts. Rely on carrots and celery sticks or cherry tomatoes in the first half. Kale chips or unsalted rice cakes make for a good half time snack. The best plays in the second half include frozen bananas or grapes and fresh fruit. That’s a nutrient-rich roster of heart healthy snacks made for champions!
There are so many reasons to enjoy dark leafy greens, including the fact they’re a good vegan source of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.Romaine lettuce, arugula, spinach, kale, purslane and other raw greens are obviously low in fat but high in their Omega-3 ratio. Even a cup of cooked spinach carries about 350mg of Omega 3 (and only trace amounts of Omega 6, which you want to limit anyway to get the right balance in your diet). The good Omega-3 fats maylower blood pressure, decrease triglycerides and lessen the incidence of blood clotting. Add in high levels of calcium and iron, and it’s all the more reason to eat plenty of leafy greens – along with broccoli, collards and grape leaves.