Your cardiovascular health consists of three key components, namely your heart, blood and blood vessels. Running and other aerobic cardio activities are good ways to improve heart and blood vessels health. However, there are other exercise-free options that you can explore as well.
1. Prioritise whole foods
Consuming a diet rich in whole foods provides you with plenty of phytonutrients that will boost your body’s cardiovascular health. It also regulates inflammation levels in your vascular system and helps your blood vessels dilate and produce nitric oxide. This may be why diets such as the Mediterranean diet seems to have a cardio-protective effect as opposed to modern diets that are high in processed and refined foods.
2. Eat across a wide spectrum
It is good to also eat a wide variety of vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats. Variety is important, so avoid leaning towards a single macronutrient, such as refined carbohydrates. Even if you’re following a low-carb/ketogenic nutrition plan, you should always endeavour to vary your food sources to ensure that your micronutrient intake isn’t lacking.
3. Monitor metabolic profile
Instead of an overemphasis on checking saturated fat intake, focusing more on monitoring your blood sugar and insulin levels may be more productive and useful in the long run. Both indicators are emerging as a primary signal of possible cardiovascular issues. Unhealthy levels can cause your arteries to harden, which makes it difficult for them to dilate.
4. Optimise insulin sensitivity
How receptive your body is to insulin can also be an indicator of your cardiovascular profile. While exercise is crucial for determining your body’s overall sensitivity to insulin, the more mundane aspects of life can play just as significant a part. A sedentary lifestyle is characterised by one that lacks regular movement, so try as much as possible to be active on a daily basis. Things like heading for a walk instead of lounging in bed can make a difference.
5. Supplement accordingly
By having more foods high in nitrates or citrulline, your body can be better stimulated to produce nitric oxide. This helps lower blood pressure and improve the flexibility of blood vessels. In fact, having a healthy nitric oxide production is crucial in aiding muscle contractions as well as increasing glucose-using efficiency in muscles. In this regard, beets and watermelon are good sources of natural nitrates. You can even take health supplements containing arginine and citrulline.
Optimising your cardiovascular health need not be limited to interval training and weekly 5Ks. Adopt a more holistic approach via nutrition and you’ll progress by leaps and bounds when used in tandem with intelligent training. If a stronger heart is your core concern, know that there are many paths to attaining one!