It’s long been known that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States (though for some short periods in 2020 COVID-19 led the list), and chances are good that you know at least a few of the things you can do to prevent heart disease. But we’re wondering if you know about the many more fun things you can do to protect your heart.
To be sure we’re all well informed, let’s first review the major avenues the Mayo Clinic recommends you take for heart disease prevention.
Don’t smoke, vape, or use tobacco. If you do, quit.
Move! Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity daily.
Eat a heart-healthy diet. Lots of veggies, high fiber, healthy fats, limited refined carbohydrates.
Maintain a healthy weight. A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight.
Make sleep a priority. Aim for 7-9 hours a night.
Find ways to manage stress.
Get regular health check-ups. You need these to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and Type 2 diabetes screening.
Eat dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, specifically flavanol, and eating dark chocolate is associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Obviously, eat it in moderation.
Listen to classical music. Studies show it can lower blood pressure and slow your heartbeat. Provided you like classical music, of course.
Move out of the city. Lots of noise, nerve-wracking heavy traffic, poor air quality – these don’t contribute to a zen mind or a healthy heart. They call it escape to the country for a reason.
Work for a good boss. Most of us don’t get to control this, but if you are fortunate enough to have a good relationship with your boss your body thanks you. Having a poor relationship with your supervisor has been shown to increase your risk of heart disease.
Live with others. If you’re not already doing it, this may be difficult in the time of COVID, but this pandemic won’t last forever. Studies have found that for those with heart disease, living alone increases their chance of dying from the disease.
Eat more flavanols. These are found in more than just chocolate. Eat berries, apples, and drink tea.
Snuggle more. Research shows that snuggling with a loved one releases oxytocin, which can help lower blood pressure.
Laugh more. Laughing dilates blood vessels which increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
Get a pet. People with pets have lower blood pressure and are at lower risk of heart disease than those who don’t.
Get your daily B vitamins. A Cleveland Clinic study found men with diets low in B vitamins were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease as men with higher levels in their systems.