Follow these heart-healthy tips
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in this country—for both men and women. African Americans, who are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol (all risk factors for heart disease) than other ethnic groups, have the largest age-adjusted death rates due to heart disease. Follow these 10 simple tips to keep your ticker ticking:
- Eat grapefruit. One grapefruit a day can reduce arterial narrowing by 46 percent, lower your bad-cholesterol level by more than 10 percent and reduce your blood pressure by more than five points.
- Go for a swim. British researchers found men who burn just 50 calories a day in strenuous activities (think swimming and hiking) are 62 percent less likely to die of heart disease than men who burn nearly seven times as many calories—340 per day—during less active pursuits like golfing or walking.
- Drink cranberry juice. University of Scranton scientists found that volunteers who drank three eight-ounce glasses a day for 30 days increased their good cholesterol levels by 10 percent, reducing heart disease risk by nearly 40 percent. Buy 100 percent juice that’s at least 27 percent cranberry.
- Exercise to fight depression. People who suffer from depression are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who aren’t depressed. In a trial of 150 men and women, Duke researchers found that after three months of treatment, antidepressants coupled with exercise were equally effective at relieving almost all symptoms of depression.
- Read out loud. Sounds silly, but Swiss researchers found that men who recited poetry for half an hour a day lowered their heart rates significantly, reducing their stress levels and possibly their heart-disease risk. Gives new incentive to read aloud to your kids each night, doesn’t it?
- Avoid air pollution. Exercising outside on hot, hazy days—when air pollution is at its worst—can cut the supply of oxygen in the blood. This, according to researchers in Finland, makes blood more likely to clot.
- Be happy. A 10-year Harvard study followed 1,300 healthy men. At the end of the study, study subjects with the most positive attitudes at the start of the trial were half as likely to have experienced heart problems as men with more negative attitudes.
- Take a mental health day (or two). Take off work a few days; reduce your stress levels. Less stress, according to a new study from the State University of New York, drops your heart attack and stroke risk by nearly 30 percent.
- Get a dog. Studies show pets make your heart better able to deal with the stress that can lead to heart disease. And think of all the extra exercise you’ll get taking Barley for a walk.
- Go rural. Researchers in Germany found that people who are surrounded by nighttime sound levels higher than 55 decibels (think: the volume of a washing machine) were twice as likely to be treated for high blood pressure as those who slept with sound levels less than 50 decibels. If moving to the country isn’t an option, invest in a pair of earplugs.