The heart is the body’s most important organ. When the heart stops… it’s over.
An extremely hard worker, the heart pumps about 23,000 liters of blood around the body, and beats an estimated 100,000 times each day- no breaks or vacations!
As such, we should be doing everything in our power to help our hearts do their job, instead of making it more difficult with poor habits and lifestyles.
Here are a few things you should know about your heart:
1. Eating too much salt raises your blood pressure, putting extra strain on the arteries leading to the heart and damaging them over time. Reducing the sodium in your diet is best for your heart. Adults should consume no more than 6g of salt per day. Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods, so always check labels.
2. Eating just two bananas in a day can lower your blood pressure by 10%. This is thanks to the potassium in bananas, which helps your body reduce its sodium levels.
3. Women become more susceptible to heart disease in menopause and are four times more likely to die from heart disease than from breast cancer.
4. If you’re overweight, reducing your weight by just 10% percent will lower your risk of dying from heart disease by a whopping 20%!
5. Excess weight around your waist puts you at greater risk of heart disease than bum or thigh fat. As a man, your waist should measure no more than 1m. For women, any measurement beyond 89cm is dangerous.
6. There’s a very important reason cigarette ads include warnings from the Federal Ministry of Health like “Tobacco smoking is dangerous to health” and “Smokers are liable to die young”. Death resulting from coronary heart disease is 50% higher in smokers than in those who do not smoke.
7. Living with a smoker can increase your risk of heart disease by 23%, even when you’re a nonsmoker.
8. The importance of exercise to heart health cannot be overemphasized. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week can help keep your heart strong and reduce your risk of heart disease by 20%.
9. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for heart health as they reduce excess levels of blood fats, prevent clots in the arteries, and help keep your heartbeat regular. Our bodies don’t produce Omega-3, so you need to include them in your diet by incorporating lots of oily fish like mackerel, salmon, and Titus fish. You can also buy Omega-3 supplements.
10. Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily reduces your risk of heart disease by 30%. Now that’s huge!
Remember, one heart attack can permanently damage a heart, so once you hit 40 you should see a doctor for a heart health assessment. If you have any risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, don’t wait till then. The same goes for people with a strong family history of heart disease. Have your heart checked right away, and be sure to adhere to your doctor’s instructions.