Tips for living a heart-healthy lifestyle

According to the American Heart Association, individuals must adhere to these seven factors in order to keep a healthy heart: be physically active, maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, have healthy cholesterol levels, keep a healthy blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels and steer clear of smoking. Adhering to these factors may help you to maintain better overall health and keep your heart in good shape.

Take care of your teeth
Many don’t immediately associate clean teeth with a healthy heart. However, there may be a link between heart health and less than optimal tooth health. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, one out of every two adults aged 30 and over has poor tooth health, which is associated with decreased cardiovascular health. To keep clean teeth and gums, floss and brush regularly and make sure that you’re scheduling dentist appointments at least twice a year for regular check-ups.

Enjoy dark chocolate in moderation
Snacking on this sweet treat may actually have cardiovascular benefits. One square of dark chocolate a day may be good for your blood pressure and promote a healthy heart. Just be sure to indulge in moderation and stick to chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.

Manage your stress
Stress is often unavoidable in everyday life, but it can be managed. Find an activity that relaxes you, whether it’s taking a hot shower, being with family and friends, or watching TV. Stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors like drinking, smoking and overeating, all of which have a negative impact on the heart.

Catch enough z’s
Getting an adequate amount of sleep can have positive effects on your health. Lack of sleep raises levels of a hormone called cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and causes plaques to break apart and travel to the heart. Getting enough sleep may also help to lower cholesterol by lowering LDL levels. For a better night’s sleep, try limiting your food and beverage intake before bed. When you eat, your metabolism increases slightly, which can increase your energy levels and make it a bit harder to fall asleep. It may also help to create an environment that prepares you for sleep. Elements like relaxing music, soft lighting and comfortable bedding may make all the difference.

Stay active
Exercise produces a wide array of health benefits, with a stronger heart being just one of them. Try to incorporate at least thirty minutes of exercise into your daily routine. Finding something that is enjoyable to you will make make physical activity more pleasant, so stick to exercises that you enjoy.