When I think February, I know I think of valentines, roses and love hearts plastered across everything in sight. But now that valentines is out of the way, i’d love to talk about some other matters of the heart. In particular, your heart health!
For many of us the health of our heart is not a priority. We focus more on the visible parts of our body we want to tone up, or on the niggly joints and muscles that we want to make stronger. But keeping your heart in good health will benefit you into much later life and will give you a vast number of benefits in the here and now.
With 7.6 million Brits living with a heart or circulatory disease, it’s time for us to focus on what we can’t see and give ourselves a little more of that love!
So how do we do it?
First of all.. Let’s focus on FOOD. Food, as we all know, is a key part of maintaining our health. What we choose to put into our bodies should be what makes our bodies work best (though… with a cheeky indulgence every now and then because you’ve gotta treat yourself!) Ultimately though, some foods can really affect our blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels and inflammation which are all key contributors towards heart disease.
Here’s my suggestions of foods that aim to keep your heart healthy and happy:
- Leafy green vegetables – Yes, your mother told you to eat your greens for a reason. Spinach and Kale are full of antioxidants, and in particular Vitamin K, that help to protect your arteries and promote proper blood clotting. They also are proven to reduce blood pressure.
- Whole Grains – Think brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, oats and quinoa! These whole grains are all high in fiber which help to reduce the “bad” cholesterol in your system and decreasing your risk of heart disease.
- Avocados – One for the millenials – Avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fats (don’t ask me to say that out loud) which help to reduce your cholesterol. They are also rich in potassium which are essential for keeping your heart healthy.
- Fatty Fish – Whether you like it or lump it, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which have great heart health benefits. And if you don’t like fish, grab some fish oil supplements!
- Dark Chocolate (Don’t say i don’t treat you..) – That’s right.. CHOCOLATE IS ALLOWED! Dark chocolate that is, which is high in antioxidants and have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. One study showed that those who ate dark chocolate at least 5 times a week had a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease than non-chocolate eaters… Someone pass me the Bournville!
You could easily make a delicious Salmon Rice Bowl from these ingredients. Simply boil some brown rice, and poach or bake some salmon covered in your favourite seasoning. Mix the spinach and avocado together with a dressing of your choice and serve all together. Round it off with a square or two of chocolate for dessert. Healthy AND delicious!
So we’ve covered the food side of things but how do we get our hearts pumping in the right way?
First of all i totally recommend investing in a heart rate monitor to keep track of your heart rate before, during and after your workout. It will help you to assess your recovery time and will help you track how your resting heart rate can reduce over time with continued exercise and healthy eating.
We’ve talked about it on the Boddiboo site before, but Tabata workouts are a quick and fun way to get your heart rate up and your exercise for the day done in 30 minutes. Head to my previous blog post for a short exercise routine that you can try now!
And with the lockdown giving rise to a number of fitness apps, maybe you could try something like Couch to 5k, a gentle running program that aims to get your running 5km even if you haven’t been a runner before. It’s the perfect way to ease yourself into some cardio activity that will decrease your blood pressure, and improve your heart health overall.
With all the love going around this month, it’s important to remember that giving your own heart and body some love should also be a priority. So this month, I ask you to give your own heart some love, and then watch how your general health improves.
From my heart to yours – have a great month!
– Danielle x