Healthy weight, healthy heart
by Louis Ignarro, PhD
We all know that a healthy weight can help us look and feel good – but did you know that maintaining a healthy weight keeps your heart healthy, too? As part of a healthy, active life that includes eating well, exercising, and lowering stress levels, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most valuable things that you can do to keep your cardiovascular system in top shape.
Wondering what your heart-healthiest weight is? It all has to do with your body’s fat content in relation to your weight and height. While it’s easy to obsess over body fat, it’s important to realize that some fat in the body is normal and healthy. According to the National Institutes of Health, normal body mass index (BMI), which measures an individual’s body fat in relation to weight and height, should fall between 18.5 and 24.9. You can calculate your BMI by visiting the American Heart Association’s BMI calculator.
When your BMI is within healthy range, it supports the health of your entire cardiovascular system, including:
Healthy heart tip 1. Blood pressure
Maintaining a healthy weight can support healthy blood pressure levels, according to theAmerican Heart Association. Blood pressure is the ratio of force that blood exerts on the walls of your arteries, so when blood pressure levels are healthy, your heart is able to pump blood effectively through the body.
Healthy heart tip 2. Circulatory system
Along with contributing to a healthy blood pressure, keeping your BMI within the ideal range helps keep blood vessels healthy and flexible, allowing blood to circulate throughout the body and nourish the muscles and tissues.
Healthy heart tip 3. Triglyceride levels
Maintaining a healthy weight helps keep levels of triglycerides, a type of fat made in the body, within healthy range. When you eat, your body turns any excess calories into triglycerides and stores them in your fat cells. The body later uses them as a form of energy between meals. Healthy triglyceride levels help keep your arteries flexible and smooth to support healthy blood flow.
Healthy heart tip 4. Cholesterol levels
Healthy cholesterol levels are important to cardiovascular wellness. Healthy weight maintenance helps keep cholesterol levels within normal range, which allows blood to flow effectively from the heart and deliver nutrients to the body.
As you can see, maintaining a healthy weight has benefits far beyond looking good – though that’s a nice bonus! Eating a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and protein, lowering stress levels, getting plenty of rest, and staying active all contribute to heart-healthy weight maintenance. They also contribute to an overall sense of health and well-being, so build healthy habits and stick with them; If you do, you’ll discover that a healthy lifestyle is a win-win for your heart and whole body.
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