Your heart works non-stop for your body, throughout your life. So, it is warranted to show it some tender loving care. Making small changes in your lifestyle can go a long way. People who follow heart-healthy habits not only stay healthy without heart disease but also, live longer.

You don’t have to follow all the steps for your heart health at once. Even the best heart specialist recommends these tips. Starting with a few tips and gradually adopting all can help your heart stay healthy:

  1. Aim for number 7:

A good night’s sleep can work wonders for the sake of your heart. As per one study, it was revealed that middle-aged and young adults, who were in the habit of sleeping for seven hours at night, featured less calcium build-up inside their arteries (symptomatic of the heart disease) compared to those with a habit of sleeping for five hours or lower or nine hours or higher.

Type of sleep was also important. Those who enjoyed a sleep of good quality had also healthy arteries compared to those who could not sleep soundly.

  1. Reduce blood pressure

When a doctor checks your blood pressure, she is measuring quantum of pressure that flows via your arteries corresponding to every beat of the heart. If blood pressure climbs up too high, additional force can cause damage to artery walls. This renders it harder for oxygen and blood to travel from and to your heart. Thus heart is required to pump harder and suffers wearing out.

So, it is good to check your BP (Blood Pressure) at least every 3 to 5 years. An annual check is recommended for those over 40 and those with high BP.

For reducing BP, make lifestyle changes like cutting salt in the diet, limiting alcohol intake, following a balanced diet, working out, and managing your stress. Sometimes, a doctor may also recommend medication.

  1. Give up smoking

In case you are a smoker, it is time to quit. It is the best single method to avoid heart disease. Smoking is the leading cause of coronary heart disease.

  1. Get active

Following an active lifestyle can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is a great stress buster and mood booster. Doctors recommend that you do a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic activity of moderate intensity, every week. To reach this target, you can do 30 minutes of exercise every day for 5 days in a week. The good idea is to change lifestyle like cycling to work.

  1. Manage weight

Obesity increases the risk of heart disease. Follow a balanced, healthy diet, low in sugar and fat, lots of fruits and vegetables and adequate amount of physical activity.

  1. Cut down on saturated fats

For helping your arteries in the heart, slash consumption of saturated fats, found mainly in rich dairy products and meat. Go in for leaner cuts as well as food which are low-fat.

Also, completely avoid Trans fats, which are common in processed foods. Such foods drive up LDL (bad) cholesterol, which harms the heart. While buying food items, look out for the ingredients list, which says ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated,’ which indicate trans-fat content.

  1. Cut down on salt

Too much salt impacts the heart via high blood pressure. Avoid items like salted nuts, crisps, canned soups, canned vegetables, ready meals, burgers, pizzas, etc. Even several breakfast cereals and bread, which seem healthy, contain lots of salt.

Check food labels- a food item is rich in salt if it contains more than 0.6 gm sodium or 1.5 g salt per 100 gm. Adults must limit salt intake to one teaspoon per day.

  1. Follow healthy diet

This can reduce heart disease and help in healing after a heart attack. A balanced diet contains lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, high fibre, or starchy food (bread, rice, pasta) and oily fish. Avoid items with high fat and sugar like dairy products, cakes, biscuits, and pastries.

  1. Eat fish

Consume fish at least twice a week. This must include a serving of oily fish. Such fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps protect the body from heart disease. But lactating or pregnant women should avoid more than 2 portions of oily fish per week.

  1. Learn to deal with stress levels

If you are highly stressed, you may drink and smoke too much, fail to eat properly, etc. all of which can lead to heart disease.

  1. Consider your family history

In case a close relative faces risk of suffering heart disease through excessive blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes,  physical inactivity, etc., this means you are at risk also.

  1. Check for  diabetes

Several thousands of people are unaware that they have diabetes. This is risky since, with the passage of time, damage in arteries happens and raises the risk of heart disease. In case you are 44 or older, or pregnant or overweight (high risks of diabetes), you must a consult doctor about this condition.

In case you have diabetes, consulta doctor to alter diet, lifestyle, and medication. If your diabetes is borderline, take steps to reverse things around with simple steps like swappingwhite rice (processed) forbrown (fibre rich) rice.

  1. Clean up

The heart works best, powered by clean fuel. This implies lots of plant-based food (nuts, seed, vegetables, fruits) and less of processed or refined food (cookies, pasta, bread, crackers).

This is time-tested advice. This advice has not changed since ages, even when fads forfood items emerge and disappear. One of the quickest ways to clean your diet is to cut down on sugary beverages such as fruit juice and soda that lack the fibre in real fruit. The key is to avoid food items that are rich in calories.

  1. Do more of your favourite activity

Manage stress in a healthy manner whether it is through yoga, exercise, or meditation. Take note to spend more time with people you love. Enjoy by laughing, talking and confiding with each other. It is great for your heart and emotional health.

  1. Celebrate progress with every step

It takes time and effort to make changes. Do not hanker for perfection but focus on progress. Try to set up a reward by and for yourself with every step in the positive direction. Get friends and family to join you.

These are all ways to a strong and healthy heart.