5 small ways to help your heart

New findings to help you keep your heart healthy
© Men's Health // © Men's Health
The two pieces of advice you’ve heard your whole life: Eat well and exercise. And yet, one in three people in this country is obese. Somewhere in those four words, the message gets lost. Your most important organ—your heart—suffers.
But small things—the apps you download, the way you think, and the foods you put on your grocery list—can make big changes. Here are five new findings to help you keep your heart healthy.
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Load up on C

When a group of adults took vitamin C supplements—about 500 milligrams a day—their blood pressure was significantly lower after two weeks, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers think that C may keep levels of nitric oxide in the blood—which helps your blood vessels maintain normal blood pressure—in check. If supplements aren’t your thing, try cherries. A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate two daily servings of the fruit lowered their C-reactive proteins—which are correlated with inflammation and heart disease—by 16 percent.
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Fill up on Fruits and Veggies

Learn from the ladies: Women who ate a diet high in fiber had almost a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease. But men with a high-fiber diet had just a 15 percent lower risk, according to a recent study in PLoS ONE. Why? Women eat more of their fiber from fruits and veggies, while men choose low-fiber bread, says Peter Wallström, Ph.D., lead researcher, and professor at Lund University, Malmö, Sweden. The women scored more vitamins, which gave them added heart-disease protection.
The 5 Best Foods for Your Heart
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Look on the Bright Side

Optimists have healthier hearts, according to a recent review of research in Psychological Bulletin. The findings showed that people who saw the glass half full were 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke when compared to the Debbie Downers. Researchers believe it has to do with the fact that happy people are healthy, and positive emotions like happiness are linked to a lower risk of heart disease. If you’re negative by nature, get moving. A recent study found that just 15 minutes of exercise could brighten your day.
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Use Your Phone

Download iHealth or Withings on your iPhone (and coming soon to Droid) if you have high blood pressure. The cuff that comes with the app will set you back about $99, but you'll be able to take your own blood pressure, view graphs, tell how many readings a day are in the hazard zone, and send results right to your doctor, says Eric Topol, M.D., a Men's Health adviser and cardiologist at Scripps Health. It makes taking your blood pressure a few times a day more fun.
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Know Your Meds

Heart attacks are more common in the a.m. Levels of the protein KLF15, which helps heart-cell function, are lowest then. What does that mean for you? Know how long your meds take to work. If the onset is 9 hours, take it at night for the best protection. If its maximal effect is shorter, take it in the morning. If you’re not sure, ask your doc which is best.
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