(BPT) - Most of us know that maintaining optimal heart health is essential to living a long, healthy life. Yet still, in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death, and we are not putting adequate attention toward prevention.
Fortunately, cardiologists, heart health experts, and new research have made it easier to take care of our health by providing simple guidelines on how to maintain optimal heart health even as we age.
Renowned Interventional Cardiologist and author Dr. Heather Shenkman emphasizes the importance of "making small, easy adjustments to your daily lifestyle that add up to transformative health benefits."
1) Go for daily walks
Yes, just going on one walk a day is enough exercise to do your body good. Considering how busy our lives can be, it can be challenging to engage in intense workouts every day.
But thankfully, according to cardiologists and health experts, a moderate, quick 15-minute walk around the neighborhood is enough to contribute to a healthy heart and body as a whole.
"Benefits of a quick walk around the neighborhood are enormous," said Metabolic Health & Vitality Specialist Tafiq Akhir. "The advantages go far beyond heart health; they include improved mood, reduced back pain, lower risk of blood clots, ease joint discomfort and so on."
2) Get enough sleep
You likely already know how important sleep is for our overall health, but it's also crucial to leading a heart-healthy lifestyle in particular. Poor sleep can negatively affect our cardiovascular health by interrupting our body's natural recovery processes, causing changes in the blood vessels, slowing metabolism, and putting stress on our immune system.
3) Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water isn't just necessary when we're thirsty, or when it's hot outside. Dehydration can negatively impact our cardiovascular system by reducing the amount of blood circulating throughout our body. Keeping our bodies hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles allowing them to work more efficiently.
"I usually recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces to stay hydrated," says Registered Dietician Lauren Cornell.
4) Limit your salt intake
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day, but ideally, daily sodium consumption should be limited under 1,500 milligrams. This is much less than the amount most Americans consume; an average of over 3,400 milligrams each day. By reducing your daily salt intake, you can lower your blood pressure significantly. An easy strategy is to increase your potassium intake, which lessens the effect of salt. Include potassium-rich foods like fish, fruits and vegetables in your diet to balance your salt intake.
5) Cut out fried foods
While eating fried foods can be appealing to our taste buds, it can also be a complete heart health destroyer. According to a new study, eating fried food is tied to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The greatest way to avoid these harmful effects is to reduce - or even eliminate - our intake of fried foods.
6) Consume probiotics
Those who consume probiotic foods such as yogurt or who take probiotic supplements have been shown to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Fortifying and increasing your digestive capacity with probiotic-rich foods and supplements will help maintain great heart and whole body health, plus it will provide the essential nutrients you need to receive from your food.
7) Eat more beetroot
The benefits of beetroot come from its ability to raise nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide is a natural chemical produced by the body to widen arteries. The production of nitric oxide in the body can help lower blood pressure, promote healthy circulation, and give you better overall energy and heart health. Nitric oxide synthesis begins to slow as a part of normal aging, which is why many people turn to beetroot supplements to maintain healthy nitric oxide levels.
8) Take a supplement rich in fiber and essential vitamins
It can easily become overwhelming to ensure optimal heart health with the many requirements expected of us. That's why adding a supplement that contains vitamins specifically designed for heart health can be the most effective way to promote heart and brain health, maintain appropriate weight levels, and encourage healthy circulation.
"In my practice, I combine healthy eating and exercise with an integrative approach to health by recommending CardioFitMD daily superfoods to my patients,' Shenkman explains. 'It has all the vitamins and minerals, pre- and probiotics, nitric oxide, and fiber we are most deficient in, in one great-tasting daily drink.'