by Caitlin H,
Apr 25, 2022
Exercise is often top-of-mind when you set out to boost the quality of your cardiac health.. While it’s true that burning calories by engaging in something like walking or cycling can help, the real cornerstone of any successful “heart-healthy” plan is rooted in a healthy diet.
In fact, a recent study published in European Heart Journal found that lifelong athletes older than age 40 actually had many of the markers in them that doctors say could lead to heart attacks. That follows an earlier study that found that 10% of athletes ages 35 and older who exercised 5-7 days a week also had greater than 70% blockage of the arteries leading to their hearts.
Fitness guru, radio host and sports medicine doctor Dr. Gabe Mirkin discussed the studies in a recent blog post.
“Exercise helps to prevent heart attacks, but exercise does not prevent plaques from forming in arteries,” Mirkin wrote. “What you eat is far more important in determining how much plaque you have in your arteries, so even competitive master athletes should follow a heart-healthy diet.”
Plaque buildup in arteries is a major contributing factor in heart attacks. They can cause clots that block off blood flow to the heart, which can, in turn, deprive it of oxygen and cause a heart attack. As Mirkin points out, while exercising burns calories, it does not prevent plaque buildup.
So, how do you ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your heart going strong? We rounded up five steps to a healthy heart. Following these can possibly add years to your life!
1) Keep your BMI in the healthy range.
BMI stands for body mass index, and it’s the primary indicator experts use to determine whether you are underweight, overweight or at a healthy weight. You can plug your height and weight into an online BMI calculator to get your individual numbers. You can then use those numbers to determine whether you need to lose weight. From there, our Free Diet Analysis (located on our homepage) will show you how many calories you should consume each day to meet your goals.
2) Slow down on the drinking.
Believe it or not, consuming alcohol can have a big impact on your cardiovascular and heart health. When you drink, it can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. If you consume more than the recommended amount on a regular basis, it can wreak havoc on your heart by causing an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, and by weakening your heart overall. It’s best to limit drinking to social occasions or something like a glass of wine or beer a few nights a week. Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages also contain calories, so overconsumption can make it difficult to shed pounds.*
3) Stop consuming nicotine.
Nicotine in any form can be very dangerous for your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that smoking “increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels” and that “chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the blood to thicken and form clots inside veins and arteries.” If you’re smoking or vaping, stopping will go a long way towards improving your heart health. Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking has helped millions of people stop smoking and consuming nicotine in any form.
4) Get in a bit of fitness each day.
No, you don’t need to go all out like those endurance athletes you hear about, but exercising for at least 30 minutes a day is great for your heart. That’s because the heart is a muscle, and when you exercise regularly, you strengthen it. That improves your heart’s ability to pull oxygen out of your blood so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the rest of your body when you’re not exercising. Plus, exercising can help reduce stress levels, which can be another burden on your heart.
5) Eat a healthy diet.
If nothing else, eating a balanced, wholesome diet is critical to maintaining heart health. Anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats are a cornerstone of heart health. In contrast, pro-inflammatory foods like sugary beverages, white breads and pastas, processed and red meats, and sweet desserts are primary factors in causing plaque buildup. Limiting munching down pro-inflammatory foods has the potential to add years to your life.
If you’re not sure where to start or how to eat healthily, we can help! We have four menus dedicated to providing healthy, wholesome meals that are controlled for calories and portion size. We deliver the meals right to your door — all you have to do is heat and eat! Plus, if you don’t like a meal, you can easily substitute it for another meal via the my-Diet-to-go portal. Check out our menus and get started today!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.