Did you know that the human heart and planet earth are more alike than different? Both are extremely fragile, constantly ticking to produce miracles and sustain life, and both are put at high risk for demise if not cared for properly. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for American women, but the good news is, there are many ways to improve heart health that are under your control. Even better news for eco-conscious health buffs… some of the tactics you can employ to boost your heart health will also help improve the earth!
1. Turn the Great Outdoors into Your Personal Trainer
This tip helps save your heart, the planet, and your wallet. “Heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive people than in those who are more active.” Skip the pricey gym membership and proceed to the great outdoors for your workout. The heart is a muscle that needs exercise, and optimum cardiovascular health is dependent upon activity and your heart’s ability to thrive and perform. Walking and bicycling are two great ways to keep your ticker in its prime and these modes of transport can do double duty by getting you to and from work and help you run errands while saving the fuel and the fumes of a car commute.
2. Unplug and Chill Out
We may be drowning in the digital age, but our hearts aren’t interested in electronic trends, or the copious amounts of stress and anxiety that go hand and hand with always being plugged in. When you unplug your computer, PDA, and cell phone, even for a short amount of time, you give yourself permission to breathe deeply, relax and unwind – all healthy breaks for a heart that is always working. You’ll also help conserve electricity by shutting down your digital connections!
3. Buy and Eat Organic Foods
In addition to being pesticide-free and less damaging to the earth’s air, water and land, organic fruits and vegetables are also higher in antioxidants than their chemically grown counterparts. Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralizing destructive free radicals, and diets rich in antioxidant foods have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Organic blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries are some of the highest antioxidant containing fruits, and organic kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, garlic and red bell pepper are some vegetables containing high levels of antioxidants.
4. Switch to a Vegan Diet
High cholesterol and heart health don’t mix. Consider, even temporarily, switching to a vegan diet to cut back on consuming red meat, animal products and saturated fat, which are all cholesterol contributors. Greenies have brought ethical eating to the mainstream, and if you’re trying to reduce your cholesterol, why not do the earth a favor at the same time by helping reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the “burning of fossil fuels during food production and non-carbon dioxide emissions associated with livestock and animal waste?”
5. Make Meals from Scratch
You’ve probably already kicked fast food to the curb, but are you still reaching for frozen meals, canned soups and pre-packaged foods that are high in sodium? High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.” Shop the bulk section and make your own beans and soups to avoid the high sodium inherent in the canned varieties, as well as the BPA in the lining of the cans. Making homemade food from scratch also helps drastically cut back on wasteful, superfluous packaging.