If you have diabetes, it’s important to take good care of your heart and blood vessels. According to the American Heart Association, adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults who don’t have diabetes. Don’t be part of this statistic! Take charge of your heart health with these simple steps:
- Eat a fruit or vegetable with each meal. We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but fitting them in every day can feel like a challenge. One way to make produce a more regular part of your eating plan is to eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable (or both) at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- How? Go seasonal! Winter is a perfect time for citrus fruits, persimmons, artichokes, beets, kale and carrots. Try something different to add variety and flavor.
- Climb stairs. If cold or snowy weather is keeping you from taking your daily walk or bike ride, head for the stairs! Stair climbing is a perfect way to strengthen your heart, lower your blood sugars and whittle your waistline – all at the same time.
- How? Climbing stairs for just 10 minutes, three times a day, will boost your heart health. Go easy if you’re not used to being active. Start out by doing just a few minutes, and then gradually increase your time.
- Floss your teeth. Flossing your teeth every day can help your heart. Regular flossing, along with brushing, helps ward off periodontal (gum) disease. People who have diabetes are more likely to have tooth and gum problems than people without diabetes. Gum disease can cause inflammation of blood vessels, possibly leading to heart disease.
- How? If flossing at bedtime just isn’t happening, try flossing in the morning.
- More peas (and beans), please. Beans and peas, also known as pulses, are super heart-healthy foods that are good for blood sugars, too. Pulses are rich in soluble fiber that can lower cholesterol. Eating just one-half cup a day can drop your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Along with soluble fiber, pulses are full of antioxidants, natural substances that fight off diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
- How? Whip up a batch of black bean soup or vegetarian chili. Store in single serving containers, and you’ve got an easy, healthy, and tasty ready-to-go lunch or dinner.
- Go to sleep. In today’s busy world, getting enough sleep can be tough. But short-changing yourself on sleep can lead to many health problems, including high blood sugars, weight gain, high blood pressure and heart disease. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to safeguard your heart and feel refreshed the next morning.
- How? Stick to a schedule. Make a point of going to bed at about the same time every night. Set an alarm on your smart phone to remind yourself to go to bed.
- Pour yourself a cup. A steaming hot cup of green or black tea can do more than just warm you up. According to one study, black or green tea can lower the risk of heart disease by between 10 and 20 percent. Tea contains powerful antioxidants that can lower inflammation, plaque build-up, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- How? Reach for a cup of tea (hot or cold) at least three times a day. Skip the milk, which can lessen tea’s helpful effects.
- Keep your chin up. It’s easy to let things get you down, but the more positive you stay, the less your risk of developing chronic diseases, including heart disease. Optimism lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and boosts immune function, too.
- How? Each day, think -or write- about something for which you’re grateful. It could be anything: your family, pet, job, or a good night’s sleep.
Taking care of your heart doesn’t have to be hard. Making small changes can help keep you and your heart healthy and happy.