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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

4 Surprising Habits for a Healthy Heart

Do you know these easy ways to help your ticker going strong?

Eating right and exercising helps reduce your risk for heart disease -- that much you know. But were you aware that coffee, sunshine and even your sex life are connected to your chance of a heart attack? Walk through this interesting new research with us and see how you can outrun the No. 1 killer of men and women.

Don’t become D-ficient.
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because your body makes it through exposure to sunlight. University of Kansas researchers found that more than 70 percent of adults are, well, D-ficient; the low-D group was more likely to have diabetes, hypertension and other risk factors for heart disease than people with normal levels. Get your levels checked and, if necessary, take a supplement. Read more about D here.

Have more sex.
Men who have sex at least twice a week reduce their risk of heart disease by half compared to guys who do it less than once a month, according to a study at the New England Research Institutes. The study’s authors credit the between-the-sheets bonus to stress reduction and increased physical activity. Although there’s no similar study in women, it stands to reason that they’d get a heart benefit too.

Drink filtered coffee.
Can’t live without your morning java? Be sure to drink filtered coffee. Cafestol and kahweol -- two compounds found in unfiltered types of coffee such as espresso, cappuccino, lattes and French press -- actually raise your cholesterol levels. A study at Baylor College of Medicine suggests that the compounds may activate a protein in the intestine that affects genes in your liver that help regulate your body’s cholesterol levels.

Get your gums healthy.
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. Doctors aren’t sure why. One theory is that bacteria from your mouth can enter the bloodstream and contribute to clot formation, which obstructs normal blood flow. Others say the inflammation caused by puffy gums can cause your arteries to swell too. Brush and floss regularly, and see your dentist twice a year to help keep gum disease at bay.

Karen Cicero is Completely You’s Need to Know blogger. A health journalist and magazine editor with more than 15 years of experience, she has contributed to such publications as Prevention, SELF and Health, and she has edited the dental column for Heart & Soul magazine.

Read more from Karen’s blog: “What Foods Should You Buy Organic? and “The Hidden Ingredient in Granola Bars: Arsenic”

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