If heart health isn’t something you think about very often, the time has come to right that mental ship. Heart health should be at the forethought of everyone’s mind – irregardless of their age. If you’ve ever watched a loved one struggle with heart problems, heart medications, and/or literally fight for his or her life, you know that this isn’t something to mess with or take for granted.
Heart health also isn’t something to put off for sometime in the future, “I’ll worry about that when I’m older…” What if it’s too late then? The time to think about heart health is now – while you still have the upper hand.
I’m not trying to scare anyone and I’m not (entirely) trying to be your own personal mother hen. The feathers just fit so nicely.
Many people (including me, in the past) are convinced that eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle are too costly to bother with. They think that lowering your blood pressure, improving your diet, exercise, and healthy living are outside of their budget.
This misconception actually has a pretty good root system. Yes, many fruits and vegetables are higher now than they once were. Fish? It can be outrageous. Doctor visits and prescriptions? Do we really want to go there?
But here’s the thing. What’s the alternative? How costly will the heart procedures be that are necessary to keep you alive? Hospital stays make visits to the doctor’s office look like a trip to the Dollar General Store.
Preventive medicine is the best medicine.
Here are things you can begin doing (and not doing) today to improve your heart’s health. Some are even free!
- Walk for at least 30 minutes each day. Come on, it doesn’t get any budget friendly than a free walk. Experts all agree that walking is one of the best things we can do for our heart. If the weather isn’t conducive to a walk outdoors, walk at the mall. You could even walk at a large department store. The main thing is to just keep that body moving and that heart pumping. If walking outside isn’t an option AND you can’t get to a store, I’m not letting you off the hook just yet. Walk around your house (your cat or dog will think it’s great entertainment) or simply march in place while watching a favorite television show. Again, just keep your heart pumping and your body moving for at least 30 minutes.
- Find ways to fill up on fruit and vegetables. It’s funny how we’ll think very little of paying over $8 for a sack of fast food – burgers, fries, and a drink – but the thought of spending $8 in the produce aisle sends us into a tizzy! Think of it this way: The $8 for produce is an investment in our health and the $8 for junk food is a drop in the bucket – just piling up future health costs, loss of work, suffering, prescriptions…
- Look for produce stands. Their prices are almost always better than supermarkets.
- Buy frozen fruit and vegetables as well as cans. Fresh is always best, of course, but frozen is outstanding as well.
- Cut back on salt. This one certainly doesn’t cost anything! Your heart despises too much salt. If it had a voice, I’m pretty sure it’d say, “Enough, already!”
- When ordering food out, go for grilled instead of fried every time.
- Eat more fish and chicken than red meat.
- Check the supermarket circulars for specials, clip coupons, and buy healthy food in bulk.
- Read labels. Many cereals are fortified with excellent things for heart health.
- Fall in love with oatmeal. Your heart loves oatmeal!
- Forget that fried foods exist.
- If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. This one will save you more money than you could ever imagine – in the present and future.
- This is something else to keep in mind: When we improve one area of our health, we improve other areas as well. Did you know that you can protect your hearing as you improve your heart health?
- Find ways to relax. Relaxation techniques are key to good heart health (as well as mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health). When it comes to relaxation tips, you simply have to find what works for YOU. What works for me (playing with my cats, cooking, watching and feeding birds, watching baseball) may not do a thing for you – especially if you’re allergic to cats, can’t cook, have a bird phobia, or your team causes you great suffering. When will those Cubs escape the goat? You don’t find quiet time, you make quiet time.
The following appeared in a recent article on a wonderful website, Everyday Health:
Rediscover Home Cooking
A heart healthy diet doesn’t have to break your budget. “Buy foods on sale — read your supermarket’s sale flyer, make a shopping list, and plan your menu around what’s on special,” advises Schmidt, who says the real problem is that people aren’t cooking enough. “Cooking at home is the cheap way — fast food is not cheap. You can end up spending $15 to $20 at McDonald’s when you could buy a roasting chicken for $3.” Homemade food is not only more economical and heart healthy, it usually tastes better.
There’s also a big difference between the low-nutrition value of a greasy fast food meal and the heart health benefits of a hearty, homemade chicken soup or one made with fiber-rich lentils, onions, garlic, and carrots — two of Schmidt’s favorite one-pot dishes. She likes to finish each off with a can of crushed tomatoes for flavor, color, and the antioxidant lycopene.
If fresh produce is too expensive, buy large bags of frozen veggies and berries. And as for fish, Schmidt says you don’t always have to go for the expensive types. When she’s counseling patients, she reminds them that the cheapest option, sardines, is the best choice when it comes to getting heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Schmidt suggests serving them on whole-wheat toast. – Source: Everyday Health
There are tons of great, healthy recipes online – including on my own food blog. You can also learn a lot about cooking by becoming a regular viewer of the Food Network. Trust me, there’s nothing on tv quite as addictive as the great shows on this channel. Ace of Cakes, Sunny Anderson, Down Home with the Neely’s, Paula Deen, Alton Brown, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives… this is the good stuff!
Bonus? Some of the Food Network stars are incredibly relaxing to watch. The whole process of food being cut, chopped, prepared, it can sometimes lull you into the most supreme state of relaxation imaginable.
Now tell me your heart won’t love that.