10 Easy Ways to Love your heart

As a naturopathic doctor, I don't have the secret to mend a broken heart, but I would say I know a little bit about keeping one healthy. Our heart is probably one of the most important organs in our body as it pumps precious oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Our very existence depends on the health of our heart. Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease is the world's number one killer leading to more than 75 million deaths each year. This statistic doesn't have to be so grim as there are many things we can do to keep our tickers ticking. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Find time for exercise Researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that there was no detectable difference between exercise and some drugs for patients with coronary artery disease. So now is a great time to drag those sneakers out of the closet!

2. Quit smoking Smoking is not just a problem for our lungs but actually leads to 20% of deaths due to cardiovascular death. Quit now as your risk of a heart attack starts to drop after just 2 weeks to 3 months after stopping.

3. Eat fish at least once a week. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April 2002 found that women who ate fish at least once a week were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or die of heart disease than those who ate fish only once a month. Sushi anyone?

4. Maintain a healthy weight The extra strain weight puts on the demand of the heart and blood vessels and the increase in body fat, which affects blood lipid levels. Therefore losing weight is not just about vanity!

5. Go Nuts for Nuts! Research has suggested that alpha linoleic acid (ALA) in nuts may help heart arrhythmias and reduce inflammation and oxidation in the arteries. So stash a bag in your desk at work or carry some in your a hand bag for an easy heart healthy snack.

6. Get it on! According to researchers at University of Bristol researchers, men who have sex at least twice a week are less likely to have a stroke or other cardiovascular problems than men who have it less often. I'm sure that women benefit too!

7. Put down the sugar According to the American Heart Association, the average women should not consume more than 25 g of added sugar (6 teaspoons). For men, it is 37g (9 teaspoons). Another reason that sugar is not so sweet.

8. Have a cup of tea or two A major analysis of 17 studies on tea drinkers found three cups a day of black, white or green tea could slash the risk of a heart attack by 11 percent. Daily green tea drinking has also been shown to help increase HDL (aka good cholesterol) while decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) and improve liver function.

9. A beer a day puts the cardiologist at bay. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that men who drank one beer a day for one month lowered their cholesterol levels, increased their blood levels of heart-healthy antioxidants, and reduced their levels of fibrinogen, a protein that contributes to blood clots. Let's toast to that!

10. Go on Vacation Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh analyzed data on more than 12,000 middle-aged men from the Framingham Heart Study and found that those who took regular vacations slashed their risk of death from heart disease by a third. Perhaps it's time to visit the travel agent's office rather than the doctor's.