Love Your Heart: 3 Habits to a Longer Life

February celebrates heart-health month, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, you should take more to heart than just a box of chocolates! Since heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world, focus on protecting this vital organ so you can celebrate life and love for years to come!

As cheerful Cupid sharpens his arrow, take note to hone your health this month by cultivating three healthy habits that will get you one step closer to a happier, healthier heart.

1. Outstanding Omegas

We all know the importance of consuming these essential fatty acids, but are you making them as much a part of your daily diet as you should? Scientific research indicates that these healthy fats can prevent a wide range of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and joint pain. Omega-3 fats have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can potentially help prevent cancer cell growth. The three most important omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docasahexaenoic acid (DHA). While our body must convert ALA to DHA and EPA, they can be found directly from cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, and herring. If fish is not on your daily lunch special, then try these alternatives: flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, soybeans, Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and purslane (a succulent green, considered a weed by those who are not in the know). Don’t know your omega from your elbow? Find out more about Omega’s in the Natural Health Dictionary!

Food for Thought: Flaxseeds are more bioavailable to your body when they are ground or in oil form. Enjoy a tablespoon or two in your bowl of oatmeal or sprinkled onto a tasty fruit salad. Find out more about flaxseeds in the Natural Health Dictionary.

2. Commit to Cardio

To maximize the health of your heart, practice at least thirty minutes of aerobic exercise daily. You don't have to run a marathon to reap the benefits of physical activity: a simple brisk walk can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Walking can also boost your metabolism and immune system, relieve stress, and improve your sleep. In addition to all of these benefits, exercise can maintain a healthy weight, which is a key factor in disease prevention. If your boots are not made for walking, then choose an activity that is fun for you so you can keep moving and your heart pumping: swimming, zumba, running, roller skating, cross-country skiing, bicycling, jumping rope—to name a few good choices!

3. Stress Less, Live Longer

Modern life can be overwhelming with the daily stresses that life throws at us. Unfortunately, overloading our system with too much work, rapid-paced technological gadgets, and too little rest can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. It is essential to find ways to minimize daily stress and information overload. Try limiting the amount of time your spend on your iPhone and Blackberry, checking email or surfing the Internet. Instead of tuning into the tube, perhaps you can devote that time to a relaxing bath, quiet reading, or a calming yoga practice.

Simple stress-reducing breathing exercise:

1. Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet place.?

2. Sit on the tip of the chair with your back erect. Place your arms gently on your legs, which are bent at 90 degrees. You may wish to close your eyes.

3. Breathe deeply through your nose and slowly into your lower ?abdomen. Then breathe out gently. Do not overexert the breathing; begin at your natural pace and gently slow your breath down.?

Try this practice for 15 minutes, a least once a day.

I hope that you and your loved ones will enjoy a happy and healthy Valentine’s Day!

Many of the terms that were defined in this article come from The Natural Health Dictionary. It is a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements. Also, you can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle.

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May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

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