For best heart health, it’s important to consider those activities we engage in every day. Everybody eats, and everyone needs to move at least a bit. By monitoring our diets and moving our bodies, we can protect and build our heart strength for a longer, happier life.

Authorities with the American Heart Association offer strong recommendations on the nutritive powers of supplements vs. nutrients gained from food. When possible, it’s important to get as much of your dietary recommended intakes of vitamins and minerals from your food intake rather than via supplements. However, fish intake has been shown to aid in a decrease in heart disease. When possible and under a physician’s care, omega-3 fatty acid supplements can aid in protecting your heart. Additionally, those with high triglycerides may benefit from fish oil capsules.

For weight loss and heart health, there are many foods that taste great and protect your well-being. Several of the best foods for heart health include:

1) Oatmeal
2) Fruits, especially berries, oranges, tomatoes and cantaloupe
3) Dark beans, including dark red kidney beans and black beans
4) Vegetables, including asparagus, spinach, carrots, acorn squash and broccoli
5) Fish, including salmon, tuna and trout
6) Dark chocolate, for a treat
7) Tofu

While we all know that fried foods are not good for us, it’s also common sense that completely omitting all your favorites from your diet can result in misery, relapse and binges! If you need to make changes, invest some time in culinary experimentation. Don’t like raw broccoli? Try it roasted with just a bit of olive oil. If you’re not sure what to do with tofu, check out some of the products made with Texture Vegetable Protein, or try freezing tofu. Refrigerated tofu offers a silken texture that can be unusual. Frozen tofu, drained, is grainy and a bit chewy, and may be easier to work with.

It’s been famously said that “you can’t outrun your fork.” Changing up your diet, cutting back on sweets and fried foods, and incorporating more fresh produce into your diet can help your waistline and your heart. However, exercise is critical for heart health.

The best exercise for your overall health is the one that you enjoy and will return to on a consistent basis. If you’re just starting out, don’t jump into exercises you’re not ready for — you’ll hate the exercise and your body will not be happy with you. The outcome of over-doing exercise can just be aches and pains, or you could work yourself into a full-blown heart attack.

Being in shape is great; getting in shape is hard. If your exercise program has been spotty for a while now, consider the following activities to increase your endurance and build heart health.

1) Intervallic Walking: Count your steps on your own during your daily walk. Every three hundred steps, start pumping your arms to increase your speed for one hundred steps, then return to your normal pace for three hundred steps. You might also add hand weights to this program.
2) Gentle Yoga: If you’ve never done yoga before, watching the pros can be worrisome. Find a class at a senior center or check out a chair yoga video.
3) Weight training: You don’t need to be a body builder to enjoy lifting weights. If you’re just starting out, try three to five pound weights and get your form right first, then move up. Work with a trainer to make sure you’re properly aligned.

Building a healthy heart takes time. There are plenty of stressors in the world that make fitness and wellness an uphill climb. However, by taking on this uphill climb after a great meal of salmon, fresh vegetables and a bit of red wine, we can face our wellness needs head-on and improve our well-being with great daily choices!