The most important key to enjoying a long, healthy, energetic life? It’s keeping your heart in top-notch condition. Beyond the standard advice to be more active, watch your diet, and avoid cigarettes, what can you do? Plenty! In fact, adopting one or more of these easy steps delivers big protection.
“Coenzyme Q10 (also called CoQ10) strengthens the heart muscle, helping it pump blood quickly and easily without tiring,” reveals cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., author of Reverse Heart Disease Now.
Supplement with 100 mg. to 200 mg. daily. Bonus: The same daily dose relaxes artery walls so effectively, it can trim up to 17 points off your blood pressure in 90 days.
Sweeten with D-ribose.
Adding 3 tsp. of this natural sweetener to your tea, coffee — or even refreshing lemonade — each day can help your heart relax properly between beats, brief moments of rest that are essential for good heart function. This also helps you stay active up to 60 percent longer without tiring out or experiencing chest pains (angina), say University of Oklahoma researchers.
Tip: The most economical and easy-to-use form of D-ribose is powdered Try this one: Nutricost D-Ribose Powder: $24.95, Amazon.
Exercise your legs.
Any exercise helps strengthen your heart and maintain your energy, so you get through even the busiest day without running out of steam.
But exercises that target the largest muscles of your body — your glute, thigh, and calf muscles — also help stimulate the growth of healthy new heart cells in as little as one week, Stanford University researchers say. To do: Take a brisk 20-minute walk every day or trot up and down the stairs a few times each day.
Snack on nuts & seeds.
Walnuts, sunflower seeds, and the like are packed with manganese, copper, and magnesium — nutrients that prevent blood clots, while also tamping down inflammation, lowering blood pressure, helping your heart muscle contract properly and keeping your liver’s cholesterol production balanced, Yale experts say. A 1/2 cup daily can cut your long-term risk of any heart troubles 42 percent.
Make sweet potatoes.
These sweet spuds contain 25 percent more cholesterol-lowering phytonutrients than any other veggie. In fact, enjoying just two heaping cups each week could lower your artery-clogging LDL cholesterol 29 percent in a month — results almost identical to prescription meds.
An added perk: Sweet potatoes are nature’s top source of beta carotene, a nutrient that dampens inflammation, cutting your risk of clogged arteries as much as 46 percent, if eaten regularly, Spanish research shows.
Drizzle some olive oil.
Consuming two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) daily in place of animal fat or deep-fried foods can reduce your risk of future heart troubles 35 percent or more, reports the journal Lipids. EVOO contains compounds (oleocanthal and oleuropein) that block plaque buildup in heart arteries, plus prevent the formation of clots in the same way that aspirin does, says lead researcher Ettori Coni, Ph.D. Have a family history of high blood pressure?
EVOO nourishes, heals and relaxes artery walls, slashing your risk of ever needing high blood pressure meds 48 percent, Italian experts say.
Pose and breathe.
Feel calmer and baby your heart by practicing yoga for 30 minutes daily. A Harvard study reveals this single step lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors as effectively as running.
Don’t know where to start? Check out free beginner yoga videos on YouTube, or try this gentle sequence to relieve pain right before you go to bed!