Heart Disease Prevention: 5 Ways to Help Keep Your Heart Healthy

Popping a daily folic acid (also referred to as folate) supplement might not be a key to preventing heart disease, new research indicates, which is consistent with a previous study we reported on.

But just because a folic acid supplement isn’t the magic pill to a happy heart doesn’t mean it’s not important to your diet. Folate is a B-vitamin that keeps homocysteine down (high levels increase risk of a heart attack), may help prevent cancer, and keep our brain healthy as we age. Instead of spending your paycheck at the vitamin store, get folate by including dark leafy greens (kale, romaine lettuce, spinach), citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, lemons), and/or beans (kidney beans, lentils, black beans) in your diet on a regular basis.

Here are some tips to keep your heart ticking:

1. Exercise: At a minimum, exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week, but if your doctor says you can do more, go for it!

2. Stop Smoking: It’s no secret that smoking increases your risk for a heart attack. It may be challenging, but quitting may be one of the best things you can do for your heart.

3. Folate and B12: Included in your diet (as opposed to supplements) may help your heart. Try this recipe for black bean chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard to get your beans and dark greens all on the same plate. Unless you’re a strict vegan, you’ll easily get enough B12 in your diet from any animal-related food (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy). If vegan, get B-12 fortified soy milk and add nutritional yeast to your salads, or take a supplement.

4. Antioxidants: Blueberries and grapes are both packed with heart healthy antioxidants. Add a half-cup of blueberries to your yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast and enjoy a half a glass of 100 percent grape juice or red wine with dinner.

5. Dark Chocolate: Yes! Permission to eat a sweet! Not too much though. One square a day as an after-dinner treat will give you a delicious dose of flavonoids to help your heart.

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