There are a handful of ways to keep your heart in tip-top shape. Some of the more obvious ways are eating a heart-healthy diet, staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, managing healthy blood pressure, and quitting smoking. But there are a few less obvious––dare we say fun ways––to ward off heart problems in the future. Keep reading for heart health tips from a cardiologist!

1. Indulge in the Right Chocolate

Everyone loves a treat every now and then. One treat doctors can’t recommend enough of is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is filled with powerful antioxidants that protect us from toxins that are created in our bodies. In addition, dark chocolate helps dilate your blood vessels and can lower bad cholesterol!

2. Get Daily Walks In

Did you know that you can get significant heart benefits from walking for just 30 minutes a day? It’s true! All you need is a pair of sneakers and a little motivation to get out the door. One study shows that by doing a total of two-and-a-half hours of moderate activity every week, you can lower the risk of heart disease by 14%.

3. Have Sex

Sexual intercourse increases the immune system, decreases inflammation, and helps us maintain healthy and loving relationships with our partners. Having regular sex is a great way to ward off heart disease.

4. Stave Off Stress

In case you weren’t already aware, stress is really bad for your heart. It has direct toxic effects on our hearts because when we get stressed we release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones cause our heart rate to increase, our blood pressure to skyrocket, and our bodies to become inflamed. Inflammation in the body has a direct link to heart attacks.

When we’re stressed we tend to take up poor habits like overeating, exercising less, and self-medicating by drinking and smoking.

5. Eat More Flaxseed!

Flaxseed has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease in clinical trials by affecting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and lipoprotein––both of which increase the risk for atherosclerotic diseases. In addition, flaxseed is known to reduce blood pressure and inflammation in the body.

6. Limit Daily Pain Pills

Around 20 and 28 percent of Americans are affected by chronic knee and low back pain. If you’re one of these Americans, then you probably understand the godsend that Advil and Tylenol can be for your chronic pain.

However, using these medications every day can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiac events. This doesn’t mean completely stop taking these medications, but try to limit how often you use them! As always, ask your doctor before starting or starting any medications.

For more heart health tips, advice, and more, explore the Metro Community Development blog.