You know you should eat the veggies on your plate, and a heart-pounding workout strengthens this most important organ. But there are also under-the-radar habits that may cause premature wear-and-tear. Here are five sneaky things to avoid to keep your heart strong today and in the future.
You’re well aware that smoking cigarettes cuts into your heart health, but you may think that e-cigs are a safer option. When it comes to your ticker, they’re probably not, suggests a new study from the Journal of the American Heart Association. E-cigs may not contain tar and other nasties of a cigarette, but they do offer nicotine, which the researchers found triggered the body’s sympathetic nervous system (the stressed-out fight-or-flight response) in a way that may increase heart disease risk. Forget the vaping.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (blah, blah, blah). But research from Spain in 2017 suggests a morning bite makes your heart happy. Skipping breakfast is associated with 2.5-fold greater odds of having clogged arteries compared to people who eat a bigger breakfast. Why go for that avocado toast or monster smoothie? Eating brekkie has been shown to decrease insulin levels and levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which may help you make healthier choices the rest of the day.
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Exercising Too Much
Yes, getting your gym on is important for your body and mind. But going too hard wears on your heart. In a 2017 study on more than 3,000 young adults, people who exercised three times the recommended physical activity guidelines (150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week) had an 80 percent higher risk of developing hardened arteries, a risk factor for heart disease. That equates to about an hour a day, every day. Overexercising may cause heart damage or lead to an irregular heartbeat. Listen to your body, scale back when needed, and take a rest day. You deserve it.
If you’ve been thinking you should eliminate java for your health, consider this: drinking one cuppa coffee a day is linked to a 12 percent lower odds of dying from diseases like heart disease and stroke, per multiethnic research in the Annals of Internal Medicine on more than 185,000 people. Because the results held true whether the java was caffeinated or decaf, the authors note that it may be the other powerful plant compounds that deliver antioxidants and decrease disease-causing inflammation. Go ahead and get that brew.
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Has it been pushed out of your diet because of the calories and sugar? Maybe invite it back. Chocolate eaters who indulged one to three times per month has a 10 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation, aka an irregular heartbeat compared to those who ate it less than once a month, reported research on Danish adults. Cocoa packs antioxidants and magnesium, which can help tamp down on damaging inflammation and reduce blood pressure. One tip: the darker chocolate you buy, the less sugar it contains.