Wellness Wednesday: The top things you need to know for your heart health

It's well known what has to go into making a healthy heart. Everything from fruits and vegetables, exercise to stress reduction has been proven to have cardiac benefits and do wonders for our cardiovascular system, but how much do you know about what is toxic to your heart? 

Dr. Karen Latimer is taking us through the biggest toxins for our cardiovascular health in this week's episode of Wellness Wednesdays. 

SMOKING

"Don't start," Latimer explains. While it isn't so easy to quit, the damage that smoking does extends far beyond the lungs and into the arteries. Smoking also presents a higher risk of blood clots and reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood. 

LACK OF SLEEP

She asserts: "Sleep isn't just a luxury. It's an active time of healing for your body and mind." Even inconsistent or poor sleep can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. And yes, snoring is a red flag and can be linked to a variety of cardiac issues. 

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How to stick to a heart-healthy diet
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How to stick to a heart-healthy diet

1. Addition and substitution (not deprivation)

"Yes, you should avoid foods high in unhealthy fats and sugar," says Latimer. "But instead of focusing on what you can't have, focus on what you can enjoy. 

2. Increase fiber in your diet without supplements

Fruits, vegetables and beans are packed with fiber with whole grains: Steel cut oats and berries for breakfast, brown rice, beans and vegetables for lunch and dinner.

3. Try this perfect heart healthy lunch

A salad with leafy greens, tomatoes, salmon and a little olive oil. Kale and spinach are also high in vitamin K and will help boost your heart health. Tomatoes are a fantastic source of antioxidants, while salmon is packed with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Toss in avocado (for blood pressure and fiber) for a filling and healthy meal. 

Olive oil is a good fat and has been shown to reduce cholesterol 

4. Nuts make the perfect snack 

Snack on walnuts, almonds and peanuts which are filled with omega-3s, fibers and vitamin E to lower cholesterol and decrease risk for clots. 

5. Keep fruits and veggies on-hand for easy access

A full fridge can reduce your cravings and mindless eating. A cup of anti-inflammatory green tea once a day can also do wonders. 

6. Moderate intake of red wine

Some studies prove red wine, dark chocolate and coffee have been linked to better heart health. Cheers! 

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POOR DENTAL HEALTH

"When you're taking care of your teeth, you aren't only protecting your smile. Some studies show you are protecting your heart," Latimer argues. Brushing, flossing and maintaining dentist appointments can all help your heart. 

SITTING

Sitting is being called the new smoking because of how detrimental it is to your health. "Too much sitting can cause heart disease, dementia, anxiety and more," she says. Standing desks can benefit your heart immensely.

UNHEALTHY SNACKING

Salty snacking, trans fats and processed foods will manifest itself over time in your health. From increased strain on the heart to increased cholesterol, it's important to know the impact your lifestyle choices have on your body. "Choose foods closer to the farm and farther away from the factory," Latimer simplifies.

Watch the video above to see more of Dr. Latimer's tips for a healthy heart! 

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11 PHOTOS
Graphic images raise awareness about the health risks of smoking
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Graphic images raise awareness about the health risks of smoking

A tobacconist dispalys new cigarette packs, plain with unbranded packaging and the health warnings, "Smoking causes nine out of ten lung cancers" (L) and "Smoking harms your lungs" (R) as part of anti-smoking legislation in a French 'Tabac' in Paris, France, January 2, 2017.

(REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

A tobacconist, wearing a mask, displays images which will be used for cigarette packaging during a protest in a French 'Tabac' in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, September 8, 2015. France's tobacconists are protesting plans to force cigarette companies to use plain, unbranded packaging, as part of anti-smoking legislation. Slogans read "smoking causes blindness, smoking causes peripheral vascular disease, smoking causes cancer".

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

A high school student looks at a mock up of plain cigarette packaging before the start of a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2016.

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Packs of small cigars are displayed for sale by a tobacconist with health warnings as part of anti-smoking legislation in a French 'Tabac' in Paris, France, January 2, 2017.

(REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

A high school student looks at a mock up of plain cigarette packaging before the start of a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2016.

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

A tobacconist sells plain cigarette packs on October 12, 2016 in Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.

(PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP/Getty Images)

Mock-ups of plain cigarette packaging are seen before the start of a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2016.

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

Cigarette packs are seen on shelves in a tobacco shop in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, September 8, 2015. France's tobacconists are protesting plans to force cigarette companies to use plain, unbranded packaging, as part of anti-smoking legislation.

(REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

High school students look at a mock up of plain cigarette packaging before the start of a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2016.

(REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

A picture taken on October 12, 2016 in Ajaccio shows cigarettes bound in neutral packaging. The first cigarettes bound in neutral packaging, with no logo's or branding but bearing graphic images of the potential health risks of smoking arrived at tobacconists across France on October 10, 2016.

(PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA/AFP/Getty Images)

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