When it comes to keeping your heart in good shape, healthy habits are the key. They will help to strengthen your heart, improve its functionality, and prevent heart disease before it strikes. In New Jersey, Vanguard Medical Group’s board-certified cardiologist, Manish Bhalodia, MD, FACC, assists our patients in pursuing a healthy lifestyle that will support better heart health and prevent cardiovascular disease. Here, we provide some of our best advice for ensuring and improving your overall heart health.

Adhere to a Healthy Diet

A healthy heart begins with your diet. Certain foods increase your risk of heart disease, while others deliver nutrients that strengthen your heart and keep its beat strong. When planning meals, prioritize the following food types which will also help you manage your cholesterol levels.

  • Whole grains and cereal products high in fiber
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding fruit juices and canned fruits
  • Low-fat proteins, including poultry, fish, nuts, eggs, and legumes
  • Unsaturated fats, like olive oil or canola oil

Meanwhile, limit or avoid your consumption of red meats that are high in saturated fat. Also avoid sodium and alcohol, which both contribute to high blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease. Finally, control your portion size – your plate’s quantity has just as much of an impact on your heart as its quality.

Develop Good Sleep Habits

Sleep is essential to your long-term health and well-being. Patients who sleep too little face the risk of rising blood pressure, cardiovascular inflammation, and even a stroke or heart attack. To keep your heart – and body – healthy, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, seek treatment promptly and take all medications as prescribed to ensure that your body gets the rest it needs.

Stay Active

The heart is a muscle, meaning it requires regular exercise to maintain its strength and endurance, just like any other muscle. Without regular physical activity, your heart cannot pump as powerfully or efficiently, eventually becoming weaker and more vulnerable to disease. Keep your heart healthy by performing moderate intensity activities such as brisk walking, biking, and swimming for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. Alternatively, 75 minutes per week is recommended for vigorous intensity like running, biking 10 miles per hour, or singles tennis.

Research shows, however, that exercise isn’t the only factor in keeping your heart strong. Staying seated for long periods is a risk for your heart, regardless of the other activities you participate in. If you work a sedentary job, for instance, find ways to move throughout the day by dividing your long break into shorter ones, as well as standing and stretching for a few minutes per hour. You may also consider a standing work station so you can alternate between sitting and standing on the job.

Manage Your Stress

Stress is common and has a significant impact on heart health. Chronic stress raises your heart rate and blood pressure, exhausting the cardiovascular system and increasing your risk of heart disease. To mitigate this risk, develop a set of stress-management habits to help you feel less overwhelmed while keeping your blood pressure low. Try incorporating some of the following ideas:

  • Establish a tension-soothing routine involving exercise, meditation, or deep breathing.
  • Maintain a rich social life with friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake as much as possible.
  • Avoid taking on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  • Give yourself regular breaks.

Seek Preventative Care

Finally, an expert cardiologist can deliver preventative care to detect and treat heart conditions before they become dangerous. At Vanguard Medical Group, our board-certified cardiologist, Manish V. Bhalodia, MD, FACC is located in our Bloomfield Avenue, Verona office, as well as our Grove Avenue, Verona and Glen Ridge locations. He is accepting patients from across New Jersey. He will take the time to get to know you and your medical history to ensure a high level of personalized care to help you maintain optimal heart health. Telemedicine appointments are available for some medical concerns and conditions. Click here to request an appointment or call 973.233.4493 for more information.