According to behavioral cardiologist Michael Miller, MD, listening to music, attending a comedy show, and enjoying a bowl of fresh blueberries are a few ways you can improve your mood and, in turn, prevent or heal cardiovascular disease.
During his July wellness talk, Dr. Miller, explained how chronic stress causes cellular aging, which can damage blood vessels and lead to clogged arteries. The good news: We can avoid and reverse the effects of this life-threatening process by cultivating positive emotions.
Here are some of Dr. Miller’s mood-lifting tips for optimal heart health:
Listening to your favorite tunes can lift your spirit and decrease stress. Dr. Miller has found that stress causes the blood vessels to close up and harden, preventing proper blood flow. Over time, this can lead to major issues in your cardiovascular system and cause heart disease.
The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation Dr. Miller recommends grabbing your mp3 player or popping in a CD. Listening to music or playing an instrument can have a refreshing and joyful effect on the body, which will help keep those blood vessels open. Try not to become attached to the same song; eventually you will become immune to those enjoyable jingles.
Laugh a little
Dr. Miller believes laughter is not only good for the soul but also excellent for the heart. As with music, he’s found that daily laughter can decrease stress, which helps to regulate blood pressure and open up blood vessels.
Try unwinding with funny video when coming home after a long day, or replace a dinner date with an evening of stand-up comedy. Having a good belly laugh consistently can help release built-up tension and defend your heart against threats.
Get a cinnamon boost
If you’re feeling fatigued or suffering from a clouded memory, grab a jar of cinnamon. According to Dr. Miller, smelling cinnamon can improve your memory and alertness. That’s not all this spice can do; eating cinnamon can optimize your heart health by regulating blood glucose, lowering blood pressure, and reducing triglycerides, whiich can contribute to heart disease if levels are too high.
To give yourself a daily mood and energy lift, Dr. Miller recommends using a cinnamon or peppermint fragrance as a freshener in your car to reduce fatigue. At home, try adding cinnamon bark oil to a steam inhaler, which has been found to induce euphoria, or swirl one-half teaspoon of cinnamon into your morning cup of coffee to help jump-start your day.
Enjoy Nice Cream
To conclude the July event, Lisa Miller, DPM—a holistic podiatrist in the Johns Hopkins health system—demonstrated how to make her Blueberry Nice Cream, a delicious raw, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free ice cream alternative with heart-healthy ingredients. The recipe is featured in Dr. Michael Miller’s acclaimed book Heal Your Heart, and you can find variations online.