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Taking Care of Your Cardiovascular System

Fitday Editor

Your heart is central to your body's health, so taking care of your cardiovascular system is a vital element in maintaining your livelihood. Ongoing stress, lack of exercise and a poor diet can put strain on your heart and leave you at higher risk for cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke. Here's a breakdown of how you can take care of your cardiovascular system to improve your overall health.

Cut Down on Fats and Sweets

Reducing your intake of sweets and fats will help decrease your overall cholesterol and triglycerides, two elements that are critical to the health of your cardiovascular system. Work to cut out foods high in saturated fats and those containing trans fats, as these are the least beneficial for your heart.

Increase Whole Grains, Fruit and Vegetable Intake

In order to raise your HDL or "good" cholesterol, you need to up your intake of these critical good foods. Eating plenty of antioxidant containing fruits and vegetables like cranberries, tomatoes, onions, red grapes and tomato juice will help decrease inflammation and cleanse your system.

Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Cooking

Containing healthy phytonutrients and monounsaturated fats, olive oil helps to raise HDL cholesterol. Try to get about 25% of your daily intake of calories from healthy fats like the ones in olive oil.

Eat Three Portions of Fish Weekly

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce triglyceride levels in your blood, decrease blood pressure and reduce blood clots. Eat at least 3 portions of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and albacore tuna weekly.

Exercise Regularly

Increase your blood circulation, build your heart's strength and increase lung capacity and function with regular exercise. The easiest way you can do this is to sweat regularly with exercise. You should work towards 30 minutes of daily walking, in addition to three 20-minute sessions of additional cardiovascular activity weekly.

Floss Daily

Flossing is critical to heart health, as it eliminates inflammation-causing bacteria that can lead to heart disease.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep deprivation can increase your resting heart rate and blood pressure, as well as decrease your muscle nerve activity. Prolonged lack of sleep has been connected to disturbed heart rhythms and hypertension. Studies have proven that people who get under 6 hours of sleep nightly have a 50% higher risk of stroke and heart disease.

Practice Stress Management

Learning to practice relaxing breathing techniques or playing with your children or animals can work to reduce your resting blood pressure and heart rate. By learning to relax and de-stress, you can improve your heart's health significantly.

Take Aspirin

Many studies have shown the preventative qualities of aspirin in fighting heart attack risk. Check with your physician before your begin taking aspirin, but generally 1 regular aspirin or 2 baby aspirin is all that is needed to decrease your heart attach risk by 36%.

Practice these steps to take adequate care of your cardiovascular system and prevent heart-related diseases.

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