HeartHey, you. Yeah, you, the one with the heart beating 100,000 times a day, every single day. I’ve got a bone to pick with you. I was supposed to give you a USANA Test Kitchen recipe this month, but I’ve heard you’ve been neglecting the hardest working organ in your entire body, and that’s just not cool.

When was the last time you thanked your heart for everything it does for you? Do you even remember the last time you stopped and thought about how while you get to rest at night, your sturdy, reliable heart is still going strong? Listen. You need to show your heart you care. It doesn’t ask for much, but it still needs (and deserves) your loving care and attention.

So today, I’m here to tell you what your heart wants from you. Do these three things, and you and your heart’s relationship will flourish. You’ll both grow old together. You’re welcome.

Fill Up on Fiber

Your heart is pleading with you to eat good food with loads of fiber. It knows in its deepest depths that fiber helps with proper digestion, but it also hopes you’ll realize that fiber has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. Score! Easily up your fiber intake by having oatmeal for breakfast (and feel free to dress it up with raisins, dried cranberries, and some walnuts). At dinner, try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, and if you’re making burgers, mix some black beans in with your meat.

Say Hello to Plant Sterols

The word “sterol” may not have the nicest ring to it, but trust me when I say your heart wants them much more than a measly box of cheap, assorted chocolates. Plant sterols help block the absorption of cholesterol, which may lower your LDL cholesterol and allow your blood to more easily flow through your arteries. For your heart, this is a major plus. It already works hard—no need to make its job harder, right? You can find plant sterols in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, and in higher amounts in certain types of margarine spreads (like Smart Balance), yogurt products, and snack bars.

Work it Out

My dad used to try to get out of working out by saying that if the heart only has a certain number of beats, it’s better to be as inactive as possible. Full disclosure: My dad is not a doctor. And, in fact, he was completely wrong. By getting your heart rate up through exercise, you can help make your heart stronger. A stronger heart is a heart that’s better and more efficient at doing its job. And a more efficient heart is a happier heart and one that’s more likely to stick around longer. Take your heart out for a walk around the block, go on a bike ride, or do anything that gets your heart really pumping.

Remember. Don’t listen to my dad. You don’t have a limited number of beats in that heart of yours. Take care of your heart and it will continue to take care of you, just as it has your entire life.

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