Staying active and eating healthy are two of the best ways to take care of your heart. Heart disease is a big issue for Americans and can impact your physical and mental health.
Heart disease can also affect your life insurance rates and coverage. Life insurance rates are based on your current health status, medical conditions, age, gender, and occupation.
You may wonder, can you get life insurance if you have heart disease? The answer is yes, but you may have higher rates. The most important thing is to manage your health by eating a healthy diet and staying physically active.
We’ll discuss why taking care of your heart is important physically, mentally, and financially, and also offer tips for healthy eating and physical activity to keep your heart healthy.
The Importance of Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death among all ages, races, ethnicities, and genders in the US. There are risk factors we can’t control and risk factors we can control that can make us more at risk of heart disease.
Age, sex, Type 1 diabetes, and a family history of heart disease are risk factors for heart disease that we can’t control. There are also controllable lifestyle factors that can affect your risk of heart disease.
Heart disease can be linked to inflammation in the body. Eating a healthy diet, managing stress, and staying physically active can help lessen inflammation and keep your heart in optimal shape.
9 Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
There are some simple healthy eating and physical activity tips that can keep your heart healthy. Here are 9 tips to keep your heart in tip-top shape.
#1 – Have a Physical Activity Routine
A regular physical activity routine is one great way to take care of your heart. Cardiovascular (aerobic) activities that increase your heart rate and breathing rate are best for improving the health of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Aerobic activities include walking, dancing, running, swimming, riding a bike, and rowing. These can be done in your home, at a gym, or outdoors, so the options are endless.
You should aim for about 30 minutes of these activities on most days of the week to get the best health benefits. If you can’t reach that target, any amount of physical activity is better than none. A 10-minute walk is better than sitting on the couch for 10 minutes.
#2 – Eat Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
The rainbow in our colorful fruits and vegetables represents different nutrients. Antioxidants and phytonutrients are two types of health-boosting nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. These nutrients help lessen inflammation in the body and protect our cells from damage by free radicals.
The best idea is to include red, green, blue or purple, white, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables in your daily intake. A colorful salad with a variety of vegetables or a colorful fruit salad with your favorite fruits is an easy option.
#3 – Eat Two Weekly Servings of Fish
The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish per week to boost heart health. A serving is about three to four ounces of fish.
Fish is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This nutrient helps promote blood flow, lessens inflammation in the body, and makes a blood clot less likely to form. Omega-3s also help boost brain and joint health.
#4 – Consume Plenty of Fiber
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans are the best source of fiber in our diet. Many Americans are falling short of the recommended amount of fiber, which means we aren’t getting the full benefit of this important nutrient.
The soluble fiber found in oats, beans, and most fruits and vegetables helps lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber has many other health benefits as well. It also keeps us regular and prevents constipation, helps manage blood glucose levels, and helps keep us full.
#5 – Fall in Love With Plant Foods
Plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds, lentils, whole grains, and soy foods are low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol and full of heart-healthy nutrients. If you can fall in love with plant foods and make them the foundation of your diet, you are doing your heart a favor.
#6 – Choose Lean Protein
Lean protein contains less saturated fat and includes chicken, turkey, lean cuts of red meat, fish, beans, nuts, eggs, and soy products. These options give you the protein needed for good health but minimize saturated fat.
It’s good to cut back on processed meats like bacon and sausage. You should also limit your consumption of red meat with lots of marbling or visible fat. Research has shown that overconsumption of processed and red meat is linked to an increased risk of chronic health issues.
#7 – Choose Low-Fat Dairy
Low-fat dairy like skim or 1% milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat Greek yogurt, or low-fat cheese will give you plenty of calcium and vitamin D without adding extra fat or calories.
Calcium and vitamin D may be known for their link to bone health, but they also play a role in other body functions. Vitamin D is linked to many health conditions and calcium helps with muscle contraction.
Low-fat dairy options are also a good source of protein and some B vitamins. You are getting a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to low-fat dairy foods.
#8 – Eat Heart-Healthy Fats
Heart-healthy fats are unsaturated and include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat.
The best sources of unsaturated fats are avocados, fish, nuts, seeds, nut butter, soy products, and vegetable oils. You can replace the saturated fats like butter, fatty cuts of meat, and processed foods in your diet with these heart-healthy unsaturated options.
#9 – Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are the heart’s biggest nutritional enemy. Trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol which are two negative things when it comes to blood cholesterol.
Trans fat is found in bakery items, processed foods, and restaurant foods. They are included because they increase the shelf life of these products. Unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains usually have no trans fat.
You can read food labels or nutrition information from restaurants to see the amount of trans fat in your foods. It’s best to keep this amount as close to zero as possible.
The Connection Between Life Insurance and Health
Life insurance is necessary to protect your family’s financial future in case something unexpected happens to you. Insurance rates and coverage vary based on your health, age, gender, and occupation.
Young and healthy adults will have the most affordable coverage. It’s important to compare life insurance rates online or work with an agent to find the best insurance companies, coverage, and rates.
Eating a heart-healthy diet and staying physically active using the tips above helps enhance your physical, emotional, and financial health. These tips can help lower the risk of heart disease or manage heart disease if you already have it.