23 Ways to Make Your Heart Stronger (and live longer !)
We want to keep you strong into your golden years, so we researched thousands of scientific studies to compile the most important advice you’ll ever read – tips, tricks, and techniques that will protect you from the number-one killer of men (and their wives). Make them part of your life, and you may just live long enough 🙂
1. Watch a scary movie. Anything that causes your heart to race—slasher flicks, a good book, even being in love—also makes your heart stronger, according to researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Upsetting the rhythm once in a while is like hitting your heart’s reset button, which helps it keep on ticking.
2. Dive in the pool. U.K. researchers found that men who burn just 50 calories a day in strenuous activities like swimming and hiking are 62 percent less likely to die of heart disease than men who burn nearly seven times as many calories — 340 per day — during less active pursuits like walking and golfing.
3. Fight cholesterol with fat. A group of 17 Australian men with high cholesterol swapped macadamia nuts for 15 percent of the calories in their diets, and their total cholesterol dropped by between 3 and 5 percent, while their HDL (good) cholesterol rose by nearly 8 percent. The reason: Macadamias are the best natural source of monounsaturated fat.
4. Meditate 20 minutes a day. According to Thomas Jefferson University researchers, this daily downtime may reduce your anxiety and depression by more than 25 percent. And that’s important, since a University of Florida study found that patients with coronary artery disease who had the most mental stress were three times more likely to die during the period of the study than those with the least stress.
5. Buy a punching bag. A Harvard study found that men who express their anger have half the risk of heart disease compared with men who internalize it.
6. Drink cranberry juice. University of Scranton scientists found that volunteers who drank three 8-ounce glasses a day for a month increased their HDL-cholesterol levels by 10 percent, enough to cut heart-disease risk by almost 40 percent. Buy 100 percent juice that’s at least 27 percent cranberry.
7. Take the stairs. People who walked an extra 4,000 to 5,000 steps each day lowered their blood pressure by an average of 11 points, according to a small study at the University of Tennessee.
8. Drink more tea. An American Heart Association study found that men who drank 2 cups of tea a day were 25 percent less likely to die of heart disease than guys who rarely touched the stuff. The reason: flavonoids in the tea, which not only improve blood vessels’ ability to relax, but also thin the blood, reducing clotting.
9. Choose dark chocolate. Cocoa contains flavonoids that thin the blood and keep it from clotting (like it does just before you clutch your chest and expire). And at least a third of the fat in chocolate is oleic acid, which is the same healthy, monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Dove dark chocolate bars retain as many flavonoids as possible.
10. Double the tomato sauce. The lycopene in tomatoes prevents the harmful buildup of cholesterol on artery walls. So double up the sauce on your pizza and pasta.
11. Fartlek! “Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight will reduce your visceral-fat stores by 25 to 40 percent,” says Jean-Pierre Despres, a professor of human nutrition at Laval University in Quebec City. A study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that doing fartlek—alternating speeds throughout your run—helps you lose weight faster than moving at a steady pace.
12. Eat grapefruit. One a day can reduce arterial narrowing by 46 percent, lower your bad-cholesterol level by more than 10 percent, and help drop your blood pressure by more than 5 points.
13. Order garlic bread. In addition to lowering cholesterol and helping to fight off infection, eating garlic may help limit damage to your heart after a heart attack or heart surgery. Researchers in India found that animals who were fed garlic regularly had more heart-protecting antioxidants in their blood than animals who weren’t.
14. Scramble an egg. They’re relatively low in saturated fat, and they’re packed with betaine, a compound that helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood by as much as 75 percent. Eggs are one of the few good food sources of betaine.
15. Swap honey for sugar. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that honey has powerful antioxidant qualities that help combat cardiovascular disease, while sugar consumption can lower your levels of HDL cholesterol, potentially increasing your risk of heart-related disorders.
16. Build an iron heart. Harvard researchers found that lifting weights 30 minutes a week is enough to reduce your risk of heart disease by 23 percent.
17. Snack on nuts. Harvard researchers found that men who replaced 127 calories of carbohydrates—that’s about 14 Baked Lays potato chips—with 1 ounce of nuts decreased their risk of heart disease by 30 percent.
18. Have more sex. You might think all that grunting and sweating would increase your risk of a stroke, but University of Bristol researchers say the opposite is actually true. Not only are men who have sex at least twice a week less likely to have a stroke than men who have sex less often, but all that steamy exercise may also help reduce their heart-disease risk by up to a third, compared with guys who aren’t getting any.
19. Have a Mac(intosh) attack. Men who frequently eat apples have a 20 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than men who eat apples less often.
20. Eat fresh berries. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are all loaded with salicylic acid—the same heart-disease fighter found in aspirin.
21. Be a part-time vegetarian. Researchers in Toronto found that men who added a couple of servings of vegetarian fare such as whole grains, nuts, beans, and tofu to their diets each day for a month lowered their LDL cholesterol by nearly 30 percent.
22. Add ground flaxseed to your food. It’s a natural source of omega-3s, for men who don’t like fish.
23. Put these tips to use. Remember: Your heart will benefit more from a few long-term health improvements than from a flurry of activity followed by a return to the dangerous norm. We’ve given you the tools to protect yourself. Work 10 tips into your lineup over the next month. When they become second nature, adopt 10 more. By year’s end, the percentages should swing around in your favor. You can do this. It’s the only way to give your heart a beating chance.