15 ways to protect your heart

No drugs. No bypasses. No scars. Just solid DIY advice on how to keep your heart pumping.
© Men's Health // © Men's Health

In 1991, you started using condoms. Sunscreen followed in '95. And this spring you were wearing a surgical mask when the Toronto Blue Jays visited Fenway. Your policy on life-threatening diseases: maximum protection.

So what are you doing to protect your heart? Most guys leave that job up to their rib cage. After all, your heart feels fine. And, really, it's out of your hands. Isn't it?

In a few words: No, you ignorant 911-caller-in-waiting. Half of the men in America are laying down plaque for that special day when they keel over.

We want to keep you upright, so we combed thousands of scientific studies to compile the most important advice you'll ever read in this magazine: 100 tips, tricks, and techniques that will protect you from the number-one killer of men (and their wives). Make them part of your life, and you may just live long enough to see the United States pay its national debt, the Cubs win the World Series, and Madonna retire. (Click here for the 85 additional ways to protect your heart.)

By Adam Campbell and Brian Good, Men's Health

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Grill a steak

You may think it's bad for your heart, but you'd be wrong. Beef contains immunity-boosting selenium as well as homocysteine-lowering B vitamins. And up to 50 percent of the fat is the heart-healthy monounsaturated variety. (Compliment your steak with this DIY amazing marinade.)

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Watch a scary movie

Anything that causes your heart to race--slasher flicks, a good book, even being in love--also makes your heart stronger, according to researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Upsetting the rhythm once in a while is like hitting your heart's reset button, which helps it keep on ticking. (Watch these movies with your significant other--it's cheaper than therapy.)

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Run indoors on hazy days

Researchers in Finland found that exercising outside on hot, hazy days when air pollution is at its worst can cut the supply of oxygen in the blood, making it more likely to clot. (Luckily, you don't have to struggle through your summer runs. Check out these 5 tips for running in the heat.)

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Tell your wife to butt out

Or you may leave her--in a hearse. Researchers in Greece found that individuals who were exposed to cigarette smoke for just 30 minutes three times a week had a 26 percent greater risk of developing heart disease than people who rarely encountered secondhand smoke. (Here are seven things you should never ask your wife--and how you can rework your queries to avoid any carnage.)

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Dive in the pool

U.K. researchers found that men who burn just 50 calories a day in strenuous activities like swimming and hiking are 62 percent less likely to die of heart disease than men who burn nearly seven times as many calories--340 per day--during less active pursuits like walking and golfing.

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Fight cholesterol with fat

A group of 17 Australian men with high cholesterol swapped macadamia nuts for 15 percent of the calories in their diets, and their total cholesterol dropped by between 3 and 5 percent, while their HDL (good) cholesterol rose by nearly 8 percent. The reason: Macadamias are the best natural source of monounsaturated fat. (As an alternative, you can easily work these cholesterol-lowering foods into your next meal.)

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Bike away the blues

Men who are suffering from depression are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease as guys who aren't depressed. So c'mon, get happy. In a trial of 150 men and women, Duke researchers found that after just 3 months of treatment, antidepressants and exercise were equally effective at relieving almost all symptoms of depression. (Want to start bicycling for transportation? Here’s a list of things that you don’t need to worry about, even for an instant.)

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Meditate 20 minutes a day

According to Thomas Jefferson University researchers, this daily downtime may reduce your anxiety and depression by more than 25 percent. And that's important, since a University of Florida study found that patients with coronary artery disease who had the most mental stress were three times more likely to die during the period of the study than those with the least stress.

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Buy a punching bag

A Harvard study found that men who express their anger have half the risk of heart disease compared with men who internalize it.

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