Ten ways to keep your heart healthy

Updated: Sep 25, 2010, 16:54 PM IST

Smita Mishra

Our heart, the silent little pump-not even the size of our fists works within us ceaselessly, ensuring our well being with every tiny beat. We do not bother to care for out poor heart’s health despite the several warning signs that it gives us throughout our lives.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide and its incidence has been increasing with the changes in our lifestyles. But we can do our bit to avoid it and it does not require a lot of effort, except a few changes in our daily routine.

So here are ten basic mantras, following which we can keep our hearts healthy and strong.

  • Exercise: A regular 30 minute workout, whether a brisk walk, cycling, swimming or yoga is not just good for your waistline, but does wonders for your heart as well. It ensures normal pumping of blood in arteries and does not allow fat to deposit and clog them.
  • Oil: How much should be the quantity of oil that we should consume daily is a question that bothers most of us. It should not be more that three teaspoons a day. And it should not be a hydrogenated fat.
  • Sleep: Sleep has a direct connection with heart’s health. 7 to 8 hours of intermittent sleep is a must to relax the body and mind. Less than 5 hours of sleep can cause actual damage.
  • Stress: Unhealthy diet, stress and lack of exercise are the three main causes that trigger heart disease. Hence concerted efforts should be taken to bring down stress level. Try anything-yoga, meditation, prayer, quality time with friends and family or sports. But relax and de-stress.
  • Eat Fish: Eat fish or take fish oil supplements like Omega-3 as they actively bring down levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Omega-3 has also been shown to help by reducing arrhythmias and decreasing plaque in the circulatory system.
  • Garlic: Garlic is believed to be the wonder drug for heart. Though smelly and not liked by many, it not just lowers cholesterol but also reduces blood pressure. Have one teaspoon of crushed garlic with your food everyday. And if you want to get rid of that smell, gulp down milk. It really works.
  • Diet: Diet plays a major role in determining the health of your heart. Fresh fruits and vegetable provide valuable vitamins and minerals to the body and a low fat diet keeps you active and agile.
  • Plant sterols: Taken as supplements, they help maintain low cholesterol levels. They work by limiting cholesterol and preventing its absorption into the body.
  • Diabetes and Hypertension: If you suffer from either or both of these, you must be extra careful. While hypertension doubles the chances of having a stroke, diabetes plays a major role in blocking the arteries causing heart disease. So it is very important to keep these two diseases under control by following a strict diet and exercise regimen and also taking the needful medicines regularly.
  • Smoking and Alcohol: Forget them if you want to live. There is no excuse to keep smoking and drinking heavily if you really care to live healthy and long. Try anything from herbal cigarettes to limiting yourself to one glass of wine per day, but forget indulging into these health wreckers if you really want your heart to be healthy.