You don’t have to go on a drastic diet or spend hours at the gym to keep your ticker in shape. First step: Make sure your “numbers” (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) are good by having them tested by your healthcare provider. Then, try slipping these heart-healthy habits into your daily routine.
Pack this snack, Science confirms what folk wisdom has said for decades: An apple a day really does keep the doctor away. They’re loaded with antioxidants that help relax blood vessels and boost heart function, according to researchers at the University of Florida at Tallahassee and the University of California at Davis. Plus, they’re packed with pectin fiber. which can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Not an apple fan? Grab another source of the cholesterol-cutting fiber: citrus fruit, beans and carrots.
Sip a super brew. Much like apples, green and black teas are high in antioxidants. A study in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation found that people who drank green tea have better blood vessel function just 30 minutes after their last sip. And a Dutch study found that folks who drank three to six cups of black tea a day slashed their heart disease risk by 45% compared with those who had less than one cup daily. Easy way to drink more:
Brew four to five tea bags first thing in the morning, then pour the liquid into a thermos and take it to work. If tea isn’t your thing, pick up some powdered matcha green tea, and sprinkle (i.e., hide) it in smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt.
Get on your feet! Americans are spending more time sitting than ever, an average of 10 hours a day. according to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the more you sit, the greater your mortality risk, even if you squeeze in a 30-minute power walk before work. Luckily, taking frequent breaks from sitting, even as short as one minute, can help raise “good” HDL, cholesterol and lower triglycerides, found a study in the European Heart Journal. So, when you are at work, stand up to take phone calls or store your files in a cabinet away from your desk. During TV marathons, get up from the couch and do a set of leg lifts, squats or lunges during commercial breaks.
Switch up your workout pace. Pressed for time? Try this:
Alternate your usual pace with short bursts of a faster one. For example, walk at your normal speed for a few minutes, then jog briskly for one minute. Turns out folks who do these brief bursts of intense activity reap the same cardiovascular benefits as those who exercise at moderate intensity for a longer period of time, according to a study in the American Journal of Physiology.
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