February is Heart Health Month. Don’t take that thump-tha-thump in your chest for granted. Heart disease causes approximately 25 per cent of deaths — one in every four — and can be prevented with the right lifestyle and dietary tips. Some of which may surprise you!
1. Down a Pint of Beer
Approximately 200,000 people in more than 16 research studies were analyzed by the Fondazion di Ricerca e Cura in Italy. The researchers found that men and women who drank a pint of beer every day had a 31 per cent lower risk of heart disease. That may be because beer raises your body’s levels of “healthy” high-density lipoprotein.
2. Watch a Scary Movie
In Saw, various organs get sliced and diced, but the increased heart rate triggered by horror movies may actually strengthen your heart, according to researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
3. Beans, Beans are Good for Your Heart
Eating a minimum of four servings of beans every week can reduce your risk of various forms of heart disease by 22 per cent compared to people who eat one serving of beans or less per week, reports the American Institute for Cancer Research.
4. Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand
The University of North Carolina found that holding hands or hugging someone for 10 minutes reduces your blood pressure. So go ahead, hug the person next to you. However, avoid any touching that could get you in trouble with the police.
Laughing “is an active process and may have a direct impact on improving the lining of the blood vessels,” Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology, tells the University of Maryland Medical Center. Time to stock your Netflix queue with reruns of Big Bang Theory!
6. Urinate More Often
In an unusual study conducted by the Taiwan University, researchers noted that having a full bladder creates stress that constricts your body’s blood flow by 19 per cent and increases your heart rate, which one of the study’s researchers says could be enough heart stress to cause a heart attack.
7. Sip Some Tea
While green tea gets a lot of positive press, black tea is also rich in antioxidants. Both teas can help reduce blood vessel constriction and protect your arteries.
8. Kill Your Neighbors
Noisy neighbors can be a downer, literally. A study in Germany found that people who lived where nighttime noises reached higher than 55 decibels were twice as likely to experience high blood pressure as those who had quieter evening surroundings. For the record, 55 decibels is the average sound level of a suburban street.
9. Start Your Day with Oatmeal
Oatmeal’s high fiber levels scrub your arteries clear, raise your levels of good cholesterol and reduce your levels of bad cholesterol. Make your breakfast even more heart-healthy by adding fiber-rich fruit such as a banana.
10. Stop Reading This Article
A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who spent more than four hours a day sitting around in front of their computer or TV had a 125 per cent increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.