by Diana Kelly
Want to help your ticker’s health, starting now — as in, this morning?
First to try: Eating a balanced breakfast that includes fiber-full whole grains, fresh fruit, and lean protein, like a bowl of high-fiber cereal topped with low-fat milk and blueberries.
Next, incorporate one of these heart-healthy habits into your morning.
A brief walk — even 10 minutes — gets your heart off to a good start. Better yet, add two more 10-minute walks later in the day for a total of 30 minutes, a routine that’s been shown to lower blood pressure even more effectively than 30 consecutive minutes.
One large banana is a potassium powerhouse (containing 487mg — about 10 percent of your recommended daily dose of this important nutrient). [3,4] A diet rich in potassium may help maintain healthy blood pressure.
A handful of berries, that is. In a study of more than 90,000 women whose diets were tracked over decades, eating more than 2 or more combined servings of fresh strawberries and blueberries per week was associated with lower risk of having a heart attack. Berries get their power from anthocyanins, flavonoids that give them their cheery colors. Anthocyanins make blood vessels more flexible, lowering blood pressure. Try tossing a handful of fresh berries on your morning cereal for a delicious pairing.
You already know that green and black tea’s good for overall health, but preliminary research has discovered that brewing up a cup of flavorful hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure too. Like strawberries, the dark red hibiscus leaf also gets its color from anthocyanins. To make a cup: Boil water and pour over dried hibiscus leaves and a cinnamon stick. Steep for 20 minutes, strain, and sweeten with some orange juice or honey.
Your morning cup of joe has some benefits beyond helping you feel more awake. In a review of studies,researchers found that those who regularly drank about two 8-ounce cups of coffee had a lower risk of heart failure than those who didn’t consume the java. Remember, that’s two standard cups at your favorite coffee shop, not two giant mugs.