10 tips to help you be heart-healthy

Happy Senior Couple Exercising In Public Park
Prisma Health shares 10 tips for heart health | Photo provided

What should you be doing – or not doing – to live a heart-healthy lifestyle? Prisma Health Cardiologist Francis Roosevelt Gilliam III, MD, shares 10 simple tips to help you take the best care of your heart.

  1. Walk briskly. 👟 Set a goal of 10,000 steps a day. Take the stairs, starting with one flight up and two flights down. When parking, choose the farthest space from your destination. Every step counts.
  2. De-stress. 🌳 At least once a day, go outdoors for fresh air and sunshine. You can hike, walk, or just sit in the neighborhood park (or on your front stoop). Being outside significantly reduces stress hormones and lowers blood pressure, which benefits your heart.
  3. Eat more fruits and veggies. 🍊 Increasing your intake by one serving per day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 4%. Dark, leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits offer the most benefit.
  4. Enjoy dark chocolate. 🍫 Eating a small 1.6 oz. portion every day can reduce your risk of blood clots and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. Doctor’s orders.
  5. Choose heart-healthy foods. 🥣  Eat more salmon, ground flaxseed, oatmeal, pinto beans, raw almonds, walnuts, and brown rice. These include omega-3 and other healthy fats, as well as fiber and nutrients that protect your heart.
  6. Get moving. 🚴  At least 30 minutes of activity per day, five times a week is recommended. Do it all at once or split it into three 10-minute increments.
  7. Know your numbers. 📊  See your doctor regularly to make sure your blood pressure is under 120/80 mmHg, your total cholesterol is under 200 mg/dL, your fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dL and your body mass index is less than 25 Kg/m2. 
  8. Get enough sleep. 🛌  Seven hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep lowers your risk for cardiac issues, heart failure, and stroke. 
  9. Eat less salt. 🧂  Avoid foods high in salt such as cold cuts, cheese, bacon, sausage, soups, bread, condiments, sauces and gravies, fast food, canned foods, and frozen dinners.
  10. Keep healthy habits. 🚭 Choose healthy foods, skip soda and sweetened beverages, don’t smoke, and drink alcohol responsibly.

Learn more about how to be heart-healthy by joining Prisma Health’s free webinars in February. Want to find out if there’s more you could be doing to keep your heart healthy right now? Start your assessment here (it only takes a few minutes).