Sept 28 is celebrated globally as World Heart day to spread awareness about cardiovascular and heart diseases and their prevention.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) claim the lives of around 17.9 million people each year, as per data collected by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and it results in 31% of all global deaths.
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death worldwide, and it’s mostly preventable by changing your lifestyle and managing risk factors.
Here are things you should do to keep your heart healthy.
1. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
Long bouts of sedentary time can hurt your heart health. Sedentary activities can include things such as working on a computer, watching television, or reading. Studies suggest that sedentary behavior may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an overall higher risk of death from any cause.
To avoid sedentary periods, get active in your free time. Build movement into your everyday activities and take frequent breaks to stretch your legs if you work at a desk.
2. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is known to be detrimental to your health, but did you know it’s also bad for your heart? Studies suggest smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks.
Smoking leads to a buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, which is a chief contributor to deaths from smoking. Secondhand smoke is also linked to cardiovascular disease.
3.Eat heart-healthy foods
High levels of bad cholesterol threaten the health of your heart. Limit the amount of foods that contain saturated fats, which can increase your cholesterol. These include butter, lard, fatty meats and full-fat dairy products. Instead, support your diet with foods that can naturally lower your cholesterol.
Eat foods rich in soluble fiber, such as beans, nuts, oats, sweet potatoes, berries, plums, broccoli and carrots, leafy vegetables which help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
4.Keep your weight down
Excess weight is an enemy to your heart health—bringing with it a slew of health risks.
“Being overweight puts extra pressure on your arterial walls and forces your heart to work harder. It also puts you at risk for developing other diseases, such as atherosclerosis, which can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and stroke,”.
If you’re heavier than you should be, your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes are above normal.
5. Eat dark chocolate
Dark chocolate not only tastes delicious, but it also contains heart-healthy flavonoids. These compounds help reduce inflammation and lower your risk of heart disease, suggest scientists.
Alcohol and cocoa (a key ingredient in chocolate) have antioxidants that have been shown to increase good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol and improve blood clotting function.
Eaten in moderation, dark chocolate, not oversweetened milk chocolate can actually be good for you.
6.Keep stress under control
If you’re under a lot of stress, you may be more likely to smoke, take little or no exercise and drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol – all of which are linked with heart problems.
7. Exercise regularly
Studies show that people who aren’t very active are more likely to have a heart attack than those who are. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to lower your risk of developing coronary heart disease. You can split up the 150 minutes any way you like. For instance, have a brisk 30-minute walk every lunchtime during the week.