Every February, organizations like the American Heart Association, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the CDC team up for American Heart Month to remind us that heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States. Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet can keep your stress levels in check and your heart ticking strong, but these aren’t the only ways to maintain heart health. Here are a few heart healthy facts that you may not have known about.
Your Heart Loves Chocolate
We already knew that chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and can lower blood pressure, but research published in August in the British Medical Journal found that regular chocolate consumption was associated with a 37 percent decrease in heart disease risk and a 29 percent decrease in risk of stroke. So while eating too much can expand your waistline, eating chocolate in moderation can expand your life.
Research has shown that stress and other negative emotions cause blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood flow. But now we know that the opposite is true and laughter is good for your heart. At the European Society of Cardiology’s conference in Paris researchers presented findings that showed when participants were shown clips from a humorous and a stressful movie, the researchers found differences from 30 to 50 percent in vessel diameter. Guess laughter really is good for the soul!
Yoga Can Reduce Irregular Heartbeats
This is great news for all the yoga junkies out there. Regular yoga practice was found to slash episodes of irregular heartbeat in half and greatly improve quality of life in people living with abnormal heart rhythms, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 60th Annual Scientific Session in April.
How do you keep your heart healthy?