It’s true that raising your heart rate with a good old-fashioned workout is good for your heart. But if you’d rather not work up a sweat (especially in the summer heat!), there are a few other things you can do to keep your heart healthy — no exercise required! New research reveals you can keep your heart strong without hitting the gym, thanks to a few simple tricks that work just as well as exercise. Read on to find out how.
Trading table salt for potassium-enriched sea salt cuts heart disease risk by 41 percent, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Opt for around 30 percent potassium (check the label). It tastes like table salt, say Harvard researchers, and cuts your sodium intake by nearly a third. Need proof? A George Institute for Global Health study found switching to a 70 percent sodium/30 percent potassium blend for three months lowers systolic blood pressure as well as hypertension meds!
Spoon up some fro-yo.
Boosting “good guy” bacteria in your gut reduces the odds of developing cardiovascular disease by 30 percent, Harvard scientists report. One delicious option: frozen yogurt, which is packed with probiotics that help block plaque buildup in arteries, according to a study in the American Journal of Hypertension. What’s more, plant-based fro-yo is cultured the same way as dairy yogurt, so it provides identical gut-health benefits. Want to make it even more heart-healthy? Top it with a sprinkle of chocolate chips! A recent review in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that enjoying chocolate (dark or milk!) more than once a week keeps blood vessels flexible and curbs the risk of coronary artery disease.
Try nature’s ‘heart pill.’
You may have heard of taking glucosamine for knee pain, but it’s even better for your heart! West Virginia University scientists say the anti-inflammatory compound tamps down levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation linked to heart disease, by 23 percent. The payoff: Folks who took it for a year slashed their risk of heart disease by 65 percent — that’s the same result you’d get from regular exercise!
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.