Medically reviewed on June 27, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Heart disease kills an estimated 659,000 Americans annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . Symptoms associated with coronary artery disease and other cardiac conditions don't generally come out of nowhere. Lifestyle choices can often affect how our hearts function over time.
Want to learn how to keep your heart healthy?
Employing healthy habits is key to staving off heart disease. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the most effective approaches for maintaining optimal cardiovascular health, including changes you can make to your exercise, diet, and daily routines.
One of the most proactive ways to improve your heart's strength is to exercise. Remember that your heart is a muscle that you need to strengthen and condition just like any other muscle in your body.
Johns Hopkins Medicine contends that three exercises performed at the following intervals are critical to improving your heart health :
Keep in mind that not all exercise regimens may be equally effective when it comes to combating heart disease.
While most healthcare analysts argue that any exercise is better than none, the American Heart Association (AHA) contends that the quality of our exercise matters. The AHA notes that a good exercise regimen for maintaining heart health is :
The AHA points out that we should increase how long and intensive our workouts are as time progresses. Research shows that workout intensity has to do with its demands on our bodies .
Some factors that can show how cardio activity impacts us include our:
Mayo Clinic researchers contend that, so long as an activity doesn't render you out of breath, unable to talk, or cause you to sweat sooner than 10 minutes into your workout, then it's likely a moderate-level intensity instead of a vigorous one.
Healthcare providers note that a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts makes for a heart-healthy combination. Those same researchers suggest that integrating dark chocolate, olive oil, soy products, and red wine into your diet may be a heart-healthy choice too .
Focus on eating the rainbow, including vibrantly colored vegetables like carrots, butternut squash, and peppers. These are action-packed with heart-healthy nutrients, including fiber and carotenoids.
Leafy greens, such as collards, spinach, broccoli, and kale, are rich in various nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamins E and C, calcium, and folate, which the Cleveland Clinic contends also improves heart health .
Snacking on nuts, such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, or almonds, is satiating. They are also rich in heart-healthy nutrients such as dietary fiber and protein and are cholesterol-free.
Including chia or flax seeds in your diet is also a wise choice for improved heart health. Both are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are also protein-rich, and flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens that may improve heart health .
Research suggests that the fruits with the strongest heart health properties are papaya, cantaloupe, and oranges, as these are rich in fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, and magnesium.
Healthcare providers argue that you shouldn't forget about berries, including raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries, as each of these is not only rich in soluble fiber but also phytonutrients .
Research into heart-healthy habits is ever-evolving. Healthcare professionals with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a federal government agency, and others at Penn Medical suggests that the following lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of heart disease:
You’ll also want to do your best to maintain a strong immune system that can help you ward off infections, the flu virus, and pneumonia. Harvard Health argues that regularly washing your hands greatly reduces your risk of contracting one of these illnesses that can seriously weaken your heart .
If you worry that you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease and want to check your heart health at home, the at-home Heart Health Test allows you to do so. Our easy-to-use test checks your cholesterol, triglycerides, HbA1c, and hs-CRP levels. Plus, we provide you with guidance and support throughout each step of the way.
Take a proactive first step toward managing your heart health today with Everlywell.
1. Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.
2. 3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health. Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.
3. What Exercise is Right for Me? American Heart Association. URL. Accessed September 21, 2022.
4. Exercise Intensity: How to Measure It Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.
5. Heart Healthy Foods. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.
6. 12 Heart-Healthy Foods to Work into Your Diet. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.
7. 10 Small Steps For Better Heart Health. Harvard Health Publishing. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.
8. Keep Your Heart Healthy. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.
9. Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy. Penn Medicine. URL. Accessed June 27, 2022.