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Over 40? Quit These 5 Bad Habits For Better Heart Health, Expert Says

Ditch these bad habits ASAP to ensure you're making your health a top priority.

As we age, it's easy to get used to some unhealthy habits. You're only human, and we all have guilty pleasures. It's never too late—and always a great idea—to self-reflect and think about your overall lifestyle, physical condition, and well-being. After all, you are what you live and eat, and the choices you make will have an enormous impact on your heart health and longevity. If you're over 40, it's important to take time to identify and quit some bad habits for better heart health.

According to Live Science, after 40 seems to be the magic stage when health risks increase in individuals. Just think about it—this age and stage in life can be when you're pulled in many different directions. Between stressful work situations, kids being, well, kids, parents getting older, and an overall busy life, it's easy to neglect taking care of yourself—but you absolutely should not. Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, internist tells Live Science, "Forty is a good time to take a deep breath, and, although you have a lot of other things out there, do a little introspection and say, 'OK, there's some things I need to do to make sure I stay healthy.'"

Taking care of your body and making your health a top priority is so necessary. We spoke with Dr. Juan Rivera, MD to find out what bad habits people over 40 should be mindful of—and quit as soon as possible—to achieve better heart health. Read on to learn the bad habits for better heart health, and next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.


A close up image of an open package of cigarettes.

A bad habit that some individuals have is smoking, and Rivera notes it's something that should be ditched ASAP. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is a key culprit of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Your risk of developing CVD is heightened by the number of cigarettes smoked on a daily basis, and if you continue to smoke year after year. Needless to say, if you smoke, quitting is one of the absolute best steps you can take in order to keep your heart healthy (in addition to your lungs).

Related: This One Thing Can Help You Live A Longer And Happier Life, Science Says

Eating ice cream

Birthday cake ice cream

You're probably not going to like this one very much—especially the next time you're Netflix-ing on your couch, spoon in hand, thinking about grabbing a particular sweet snack from the freezer. Rivera advises, "Decrease ice cream consumption: I call it the triple threat. It has sugar, fat, and salt." (Ice cream is chock-full of saturated fat.) Sorry, not sorry, but giving up ice cream is the move. Your heart will thank us, and so will you.

Drinking soda—even diet soda

soda glasses

The next bad habit Rivera says to ditch is drinking soda, including diet soda. He cautions, "It increases the risk of heart disease." So, switch up your go-to beverage, because drinks that are packed with sugar are a major no-no.

Eating bread baskets at restaurants

buttermilk dinner rolls

Rivera tells us, "At least most of the time, skip the bread before lunch or dinner when eating at restaurants." Bread that's prepared with white flour doesn't contain healthy minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Eating a lot of white bread—aka "refined grains"—could enhance your chances of developing heart disease. We know that basket of warm dinner rolls may seem really tempting, but do your health a favor, and refrain.

Related: 9 Best-Proven Mind And Body Secrets To Live Longer, Says Science

Fueling up with energy drinks

energy drink

Last but not least, another bad item on the list of habits to ditch is energy drinks. Rivera advises to stop drinking them, as this habit "might lead to arrhythmias and potentially cardiovascular events." Another one bites the dust, but that's it.

And there you have it! Eliminating these things from your life may not be easy, but you will be giving yourself—and your heart—the attention and care you deserve and need to stay healthy in your 40s and beyond.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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