According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Today is a great time to reflect on your habits and how they relate to your risk. Did you know that just several small changes in nutrition can go a long way in protecting your ticker? Here are a few simple, science-backed ways to eat for a healthier heart.
Pack on Potassium
Potassium is an important nutrient for heart health. This is because potassium helps counteract sodium’s blood-pressure-raising effects. Together, potassium and sodium are electrolytes that work together to regulate your fluid balance, blood pressure, and heart beats. In fact, research has found that high-potassium diets reduce heart health risk regardless of sodium intake. Since potassium is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, many people aren’t getting enough. Add high-potassium foods like avocados, potatoes, beans, and dark leafy greens to your eating pattern to help you meet your needs.
Keep Sodium in Check
As the counterpart to potassium, sodium increases blood pressure and can increase risk for heart disease over time. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day and aiming for closer to 1,500 milligrams per day if you have heart disease or known risk factors. You can find out more about risk factors here. Research has found that lowering your sodium intake may also improve your quality of life and energy levels. Try choosing low-sodium foods and opting for herbs, spices, or salt substitutes to add flavor when cooking.
There are many reasons to stay hydrated. Hydration can benefit your brain health, joint health, skin health, and heart health. Research has found that drinking enough water reduces risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by 54% and may even lead to a longer, healthier life overall. Try to carry a reusable water bottle wherever you can to make it easy to sip throughout the day. Working in hydrating foods like watermelons, apples, and tomatoes can count toward your hydration goal too.
The Bottom Line
Along with eating for a healthy heart, healthy lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep, managing stress, and regular physical activity are important to consider. Make sure to amp up your produce intake, limit sodium, and stay hydrated to best celebrate heart health for this month and beyond.
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