There’s great news from the Cleveland Clinic: You can cut your risk of heart disease by 75%—and help your heart actually age in reverse—just by trimming excess belly fat and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels in check! Think this sounds hard? It isn’t! Researchers say these simple strategies can help you meet your health goals quickly and easily.
Banish belly fat by gardening daily
Shedding excess belly fat cuts heart disease risk by 56%—and you don’t have to spend sunny days in a gym to do it! British researchers say working in a garden for 20 minutes daily can help you trim up to 11 pounds from your waist this summer. Sports medicine researcher Murray Griffin, Ph.D., explains that gardening boosts metabolism as effectively as tough gym workouts—and it’s better at controlling cravings.
Control cholesterol with deep breathing
Great news from Spanish researchers: Taking a two minute break each hour to practice slow, deep abdominal breathing could make your cholesterol level drop by as much as 10%. Turns out, cortisol dampens the liver’s ability to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, but hourly stress breaks slash the production of the heart harming hormone by 63%.
Give blood for your heart
Donating blood rids the body of excess iron and older, clot-prone blood cells to keep your heart young and strong. Finnish researchers say donating blood twice yearly cuts your heart attack risk by as much as 86%!
Steady blood sugar by snacking on nuts
They’re rich in monounsaturated fats, which help the muscles burn sugar for fuel, preventing heart-aging blood-sugar surges. To get the benefits, add 1⁄3 cup of nuts to your daily diet. Canadian researchers say this can steady blood sugar enough to keep your heart functioning as if it were five years younger.
Lower pressure with a sesame oil drizzle
Adding 1 oz. of sesame oil to your diet can cut blood pressure by as much as 32 points in two months. That’s the word from researchers who found sesame oil brims with plant compounds that relax blood vessel walls and prevent blood pressure spikes.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine