Friday, February 27, 2009

Health Alert: 10 ways to save your heart!

Whether you are in your 20's, 30's or 40's your health is an issue you must start to deal with. Like it or not your moms, girl friend or wifey, will bug you until you go get that supposed annual doctor's check up. So instead of waiting until the last minute check out these simple tips from MensHealth that will keep the old ticker in good health for years to come.

1. Grill a steak. You may think it's bad for your heart, but you'd be wrong. Beef contains immunity-boosting selenium as well as homocysteine-lowering B vitamins. And up to 50 percent of the fat is the heart-healthy monounsaturated variety.

2. 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.

3. Run indoors on hazy days. Researchers in Finland found that exercising outside on hot, hazy days when air pollution is at its worst can cut the supply of oxygen in the blood, making it more likely to clot.

4. Tell your wife to butt out. Or you may leave her—in a hearse. Researchers in Greece found that individuals who were exposed to cigarette smoke for just 30 minutes three times a week had a 26 percent greater risk of developing heart disease than people who rarely encountered secondhand smoke.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Bike away the blues. Men who are suffering from depression are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease as guys who aren't depressed. So c'mon, get happy. In a trial of 150 men and women, Duke researchers found that after just 3 months of treatment, antidepressants and exercise were equally effective at relieving almost all symptoms of depression.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Take aspirin. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that regular aspirin consumption cut the risk of coronary heart disease by 28 percent in people who had never had a heart attack or stroke, but were at heightened risk. For maximum impact on your blood pressure, take a low dose just before bed.

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