11 Unexpected Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Aside from the previously mentioned preventative actions that you can take to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (stop smoking, exercise more, improve your cholesterol levels, manage blood pressure and diabetes, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, eat a heart-healthy diet, and schedule biannual dental cleanings), there are actually a great number of unexpected ways in which you can significantly reduce your risk. Here are some of those ways.
- Indulge in dark chocolate. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which can help arteries stay more flexible and open. It is also believed that other properties in dark chocolate can help prevent clotting and the bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and turning into plague. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium, as well.
- Eat more legumes. Legumes like beans, lentils, and peas are great plant-based sources of protein that don’t contain a lot of unhealthy fat. Consuming legumes as a primary source of protein instead of animal protein lowers your risk of heart disease by up to 22% according to one study. They can also help control blood sugar.
- Enjoy a fish dish. Eating grilled, sautéed, baked, or roasted fish (sustainably sourced and NOT farm raised) once a week can help reduce your risk of a heart attack by 33%. Fish tacos on Tuesday anyone?
- Listen to classical music. A study from the University of Oxford found that listening to classical music can help lower blood pressure and slow down your heart beat. The study concluded that it didn’t matter what type of music the listener normally prefers, the affects were the same across the board for all different tastes.
- Drink a beer. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that those who drank one beer a day for a month lowered their cholesterol levels, increased their blood levels of heart-healthy antioxidants, and reduced their levels of a blood clot causing protein.
- Spice it up. Cardamom, thyme, cayenne, rosemary, coriander, basil, and cumin all have heart health benefits, as well as whole body benefits. Spicing up your meals is a delicious and easy way to protect and support your heart and other bodily systems.
- Incorporate ginger and turmeric into your life. Both ginger and turmeric have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. You can cook with these roots or make a hot tea with them. Inflammation is a major contributor to heart disease and other chronic aliments.
- Take a B-vitamin complex every morning. Taking a B-vitamin complex can help make your blood vessels open wider. It can also reduce your levels of homocysteine, which is a substance linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Go on a 20-minute bicycle ride every day. Sounds pretty simple, right? This heart healthy exercise can also boost your mood too. The more sedentary your life is, the higher your chances of developing cardiovascular problems is, as well as other health-related issues.
- Adopt a dog. The benefits of having a loyal furry friend are endless! Owning a dog is likely to make you more active and the unconditional love and companionship that you will receive has been scientifically linked to a reduction in the risk of having a heart attack and other cardiovascular issues.
- Go to bed earlier. Regularly sleeping less than seven hours a night can increase your chances of a heart attack, as well as contribute to higher levels of stress and blood pressure. The magic number seems to be eight hours.