It’s common to think that cholesterol, and saturated fat intake, are the reason so many have heart issues later on in life. While this can contribute, it’s definitely not the only reason, and of course it’s possible to consume saturated fat, and cholesterol, in proper amounts without any adverse side effects.
So, rather than cutting out these two groups completely, as your body actually needs certain amounts of fat and cholesterol to function, let’s look at some other ways you can improve the health of your heart. Here are 9 ways, beyond cutting cholesterol, that will improve your heart health.
1. The first tip is to reduce your intake of sugary foods and processed carbohydrates. High sugar intake contributes more to heart disease than fat. In addition, chronic high sugar intake causes inflammation, which can cause a whole host of other problems in the body.
2. Don’t worry about your fat intake, saturated fat included. In the last few years, more and more studies have concluded that fat does not directly cause heart disease. Combining fat with sugar is bad, so high-fat, high-sugar junk food sources should be eliminated, but getting in natural, healthy fats is always good for you.
3. Try to increase your omega-3 intake, and reduce your vegetable oil intake. For optimal health, you want a proper balance between your omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Many common cooking fats like vegetable oils are high in omega-6s. To balance this, try to add more omega-3s to your diet, through things like fish oil. Omega-6s increase inflammation, and omega-3s decrease inflammation, so you should aim for at least a 1:1 intake ratio.
4. Figure out how to manage your daily stress levels. Chronic stress is a strong contributor to cardiovascular disease, so finding ways to reduce and manage your stress will go a long way in keeping your heart healthy.
5. Increasing your vitamin D levels is a great way to improve overall health, and the best way to do this is spending more time outdoors, with fresh air and real sunlight. Research also shows that being around plants and sunshine improves all kinds of health markers, so make an effort to spend time outside with nature on a regular basis.
6. Use your diet to reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation, caused by things like processed and sugar-rich foods, is a strong contributor to heart disease. Eat foods like vegetables, apples, berries, avocados, nuts – lots of whole food sources. By decreasing your sugar intake, and increasing your vegetable and whole food intake, you can help reduce inflammation and reduce your risk of heart disease.
7. Dietary supplements can also be a huge help in lowering risk of heart disease. We already talked about omega-3s, which can be obtained through fish oil supplements. In addition, supplements proven to improve heart health include vitamin D, magnesium, CoQ-10, probiotics, curcumin, and resveratrol.
8. Daily exercise is a very good way to strengthen your cardiovascular system and reduce heart disease. Find something active to do every day if you can – walk, hike, take a fitness class, ride your bike, it all helps.
9. Lastly, take a look at your daily life, and more importantly, your relationships. Positive connections and relationships with other people have very beneficial impacts on overall health. By having people around you who will be a positive influence, not negative and drama-filled, you will improve your mood and health.