The Top 5 Ways To Improve Your Heart Health

From eating dark chocolate to rocking out to music, check out these easy ways to protect your heart.

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| February 20th, 2013
4. Pump up the volume. We already know that music can make us feel good. But did you also know it has been linked to lowering blood pressure? Specifically, listening to music can decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as your heart rate. But before you start blasting your iPod at the gym, just know that not all music is created equal when it comes to heart health. According to a study published in the journal Heart, what matters most is the tempo. Researchers noted that faster music—whether classical or rock—caused an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, while slower tempo music had a calming effect. A little Beethoven, anyone?

MORE: The Uplifting Power of Music

5. Drizzle some olive oil. There’s a reason for all of the fuss over olive oil—it’s good for your heart. According to a Portuguese study, one of the major antioxidants in this Mediterranean crop, DHPEA-EDA, was found to protect red blood cells from damage. Cellular destruction is partly responsible for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke, and red blood cells are particularly susceptible to oxidative damage because they are the body's oxygen carriers. To protect your precious heart, break out the extra virgin olive oil. The DHPEA-EDA in there can comprise up to half of the total antioxidant component of the oil. If you’re cooking with olive oil, just be sure to heat it below its smoke point: 310 degrees Fahrenheit for extra virgin olive oil and 375 degrees Fahrenheit for virgin olive oil. Higher heat can cause the oil to break down into free radicals, which only contribute to more cell damage. Or simply drizzle some on whole wheat pasta or use it for a tasty salad vinaigrette.

COLUMN: Which Cooking Oil Is Healthiest?

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