Good Morning, Heart Health!
Good Morning, Heart Health!

by Diana Kelly

Want to help your ticker's health, starting now -- as in, this morning?

First to try: Eating a balanced breakfast that includes fiber-full whole grains, fresh fruit, and lean protein, like a bowl of high-fiber cereal topped with low-fat milk and blueberries. [1]

Next, incorporate one of these heart-healthy habits into your morning.

Hoof It

A brief walk -- even 10 minutes -- gets your heart off to a good start. Better yet, add two more 10-minute walks later in the day for a total of 30 minutes, a routine that's been shown to lower blood pressure even more effectively than 30 consecutive minutes. [2]

Peel It

One large banana is a potassium powerhouse (containing 487mg [3] -- about 10 percent of your recommended daily dose of this important nutrient). [3,4] A diet rich in potassium may help maintain healthy blood pressure. [4,5]

Pop It

A handful of berries, that is. In a study of more than 90,000 women whose diets were tracked over decades, eating more than 2 or more combined servings of fresh strawberries and blueberries per week was associated with lower risk of having a heart attack.[6] Berries get their power from anthocyanins, flavonoids that give them their cheery colors. Anthocyanins make blood vessels more flexible, lowering blood pressure. [6] Try tossing a handful of fresh berries on your morning cereal for a delicious pairing.

Brew It

You already know that green and black tea's good for overall health, but preliminary research has discovered that brewing up a cup of flavorful hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure too. Like strawberries, the dark red hibiscus leaf also gets its color from anthocyanins. [7] To make a cup: Boil water and pour over dried hibiscus leaves and a cinnamon stick. Steep for 20 minutes, strain, and sweeten with some orange juice or honey. [8]

Caffeinate It

Your morning cup of joe has some benefits beyond helping you feel more awake. In a review of studies, researchers found that those who regularly drank about two 8-ounce cups of coffee had a lower risk of heart failure than those who didn't consume the java [9]. Remember, that's two standard cups at your favorite coffee shop, not two giant mugs.


1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 4 Tips for Better Breakfasts

2. Bhammar DM,Angadi SS, Gaesser GA.

Effects of fractionized and continuous exercise on 24-h ambulatory blood pressure.

Med Sci Sports Exerc.2012 Dec;44(12):2270-6.

3. USDA Database Banana

4. Potassium AI

5. He FJ, MacGregor GA.

Beneficial effects of potassium on human health.

Physiol Plant.2008 Aug;133(4):725-35.

6. Aed'n Cassidy, Kenneth J. Mukamal, Lydia Liu, Mary Franz, A. Heather Eliassen, and Eric B. Rimm High Anthocyanin Intake Is Associated With a Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Young and Middle-Aged Women

7. Hopkins AL, Lamm MG, Funk JL, Ritenbaugh C.

Hibiscus sabdariffa L. in the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia: a comprehensive review of animal and human studies.

Fitoterapia. 2013 Mar;85:84-94.

8. Tea recipe:

9. Mostofsky E, Rice MS, Levitan EB, Mittleman MA.

Habitual coffee consumption and risk of heart failure: a dose-response meta-analysis.

Circ Heart Fail. 2012 Jul 1;5(4):401-5.

Diana Kelly is a New York-based freelance writer and editor with over 10 years' experience working for various media outlets including, Prevention, Shape, Redbook, Men's Fitness and more

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"Good Morning, Heart Health!"