Keeping your heart healthy means making sure that you are in the habit of eating good foods and living a healthy lifestyle. Eating heart-healthy helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and conditions associated with heart disease such as atrial fibrillation. It can also help lower your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
For those who have cardiovascular issues, it is important to educate yourself about how this can affect life insurance rates. While life insurance for people with atrial fibrillation may be a little more expensive, you can easily find ample and affordable coverage by comparing quotes online.
This article will discuss foods that can keep your heart healthy and how a heart-healthy lifestyle keeps your life insurance rates down.
The most heart-healthy diets are plant-based diets. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat meat, dairy, or fish, but the foundation of your diet should come from plant foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Two diets that are well known for their heart-healthy benefits are the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
The Mediterranean diet includes ample servings of plant foods. It also includes two weekly servings of fish. Poultry and dairy can be eaten a few times a week.
With this diet, meat and sweets are limited. Water is the main beverage of choice, and moderate servings of red wine can also be consumed with the Mediterranean diet.
The DASH diet is sometimes called an Americanized Mediterranean diet because it has many similarities. It is high in nutrients like potassium and magnesium, but low in sodium. Plant foods can be eaten in abundance, while processed foods are limited or avoided.
A heart-healthy diet will include foods that can lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol levels, and lower your overall risk for all types of heart disease. A diet that is good for your heart will also help keep your life insurance rates reasonable.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber and other nutrients that can boost your cardiovascular health. You should strive for half of your plate to be full of fruits and vegetables at every meal.
Fiber is a nutrient that plays a big role in heart health. Fiber also boosts health by preventing constipation and keeping us full for longer after eating.
The soluble fiber found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, bran, and beans can lower blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases often are considered pre-existing conditions and can result in you not getting insurance coverage.
These two food groups also have phytochemicals and antioxidants. Many of these nutrients lessen inflammation in the body, which can boost cardiovascular health. They are responsible for the many different colors of fruits and vegetables, so always try to eat a rainbow of colors on your plate.
Some of the best fruits and vegetables for heart health include leafy greens like spinach and kale, berries, tomatoes, and avocados. Leafy greens have vitamin K and nitrates, which are both good for your heart.
Berries have antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body, which protects the heart. Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which plays a role in heart health. Avocados are high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
Grains are another great source of fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Whole grains are your best bet because they are less processed and contain more fiber than enriched or refined grains.
Whole grains include oats, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, pasta, and cereals, quinoa, and popcorn. Your diet should include at least half of your grains coming from whole grains.
Olive oil has heart-healthy unsaturated fats and can be a good replacement for butter, which is high in saturated fat. It can be used as a salad dressing base to flavor vegetables or in grain-based dishes. Olive oil is also a key component of the Mediterranean diet.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are another great source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Walnuts are one of the best nuts because they also have the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are another nut that is great for heart health.
Seeds like chia and flax have fiber, antioxidants, and the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. These can easily be added to salads, oatmeal, yogurt, pudding, or many other recipes.
Garlic has many antioxidants and phytochemicals that have a relationship to cardiovascular health. The main heart-healthy compound in garlic is called allicin, which helps enhance health in many ways beyond just your heart.
Green tea has antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body and protect the heart. You can easily switch out your afternoon coffee for green tea to reap the benefits of this beverage.
Edamame, tempeh, and tofu are soy products that contain phytoestrogens, which can lower cholesterol levels. Soy products are great meat replacements because they still have protein with no cholesterol and very little fat.
Dark chocolate has antioxidant properties that are good for the heart. While dark chocolate has some heart-health benefits, it is also high in calories and sugar, so this is one food you should limit.
Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation in the body. It is also beneficial for the heart, brain, and joints.
The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish weekly to get the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. A serving is about four ounces and should include some fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, or herring.
Legumes include beans, peas, and lentils. These foods can also boost heart health because they have fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Beans like chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans are versatile and inexpensive. Lentils and peas are also inexpensive and can be used in a variety of recipes and meals.
Moderate consumption of alcohol does have some heart-health benefits because it can raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. However, alcohol also comes with some risks, so someone should not start consuming alcohol just for these benefits.
Moderate consumption is up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. This could include a glass of wine or a beer with dinner.
Exercise and Physical Activity
Exercise and physical activity are one of the other important keys to a healthy heart. Physical activity can lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, and make your heart more efficient so it pumps more blood with less work.
A daily walk, cycling, swimming, dancing, or other aerobic activities are the ones that boost your heart health the most. These cardiovascular activities will elevate your heart and breathing rate while you are doing them.
Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Healthy eating and physical activity will go a long way in keeping your heart in good shape, improving your overall health and wellness, and lowering your life insurance costs. Managing stress, getting enough sleep, managing your weight, and keeping up with regular medical checkups are also important to keep your heart healthy.
Melissa Morris writes and researches for the life insurance comparison site, EffortlessInsurance.com. She has a master of science degree in exercise science, is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist, and an ISSN certified sports nutritionist.