Be Nice, It’s Good for Your Heart

woman smiling

It is rare for people to consciously try to be nasty, but it is also quite rare for people to go out of their way to be kind to others. While helping other people should be enough of a reason to be nice, research has shown that having this friendly attitude will also bring you a number of different health benefits, making it more worthwhile than ever to be nice to others.

Heart Health
There are now several studies that have shown that there is a link between acts of kindness and the different markers of heart health. A study carried out in 2006 was especially successful in showing that acts of kindness were able to lower blood pressure, as it releases a chemical called nitric oxide within the body, which then dilutes blood vessels. This is also the case for “bad” cholesterol, which is lowered to quite an extent after consistent levels of kindness have been practised.

Stress and Cortisol
Whenever your body experiences stress, it releases the hormone cortisol throughout your body. While this is absolutely fine on occasion, chronic stress, and therefore the continuous release of cortisol, has many negative health effects. However, being nice is something that can drastically lower the cortisol levels within your body, which then has an impact on everything from your state of mind to the rate at which your body ages.

Illness Prevention
Research has shown that people who spend more time helping others tend to have a much stronger ability to ward off infections and illnesses.

doctor and patient

This could be due to the fact that they have lower markers of inflammation, as inflammation is responsible for a whole array of different diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Reduced Pain
In addition to being nice to others, you should also remember to be nice to yourself. This means that, if you suffer from chronic pain, you should try to be as accepting and understanding about your condition as possible, rather than berating yourself for not improving fast enough. By being kinder to yourself in this way, the amount of pain that you experience is likely to quickly drop, which will then help you to recover even faster.

Longer Life
It comes as no surprise that those who are experiencing all of the above health benefits would enjoy a longer life, and research has backed this up. The studies looked in particular at people who volunteered for two or more charitable organizations, and found that they experienced a 44% lowered risk of dying early, which is even more of an impact than regular exercise has.

Science has definitely proven that being nice really pays off in so many different ways. If you are looking to carry out more acts of kindness, there are a number of ways in which you can do this. From volunteering at a local charity to paying someone a genuine compliment to simply being a listening ear for someone who is having a tough time, make it your mission to go out of your way to be nice to others as much as possible.

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Try These Tasty Red Meat Substitutes

While many may find red meat irresistible, there are a few long term studies that have recently been concluded, and these prove that eating too much red meat, especially if it is processed, is likely to shorten your life. However, if being a vegetarian does not appeal to you, there are still plenty of other tasty red meat substitutes that you can start to incorporate into your diet.

salmon
Fish
While fish and meat are often grouped together, fish contains significantly less saturated fat than meat, and is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit a number of different areas in terms of health. While some fish may not feel like a substantial substitute for red meat, there are others that can most definitely hold their own. Salmon, whether you grill, smoke or bake it, is a hearty and flavorful fish, while the mild flavor of rainbow trout is ideal for those who do not usually like seafood. Halibut is another versatile fish, as is Sablefish, also known as black cod, which is known for its incredibly buttery texture.

Tofu
Even the most avid meat eaters should really be taking a break from eating meat at least once a week, but if you still want a protein that is substantial, tofu is a great option. Tofu can easily replace the meat in just about all of your favorite recipes, whether you cook up some crispy nuggets or some Chinese sweet and sour or an Italian dish of spaghetti and meatballs.

Chicken
Free Range Chicken
While chicken is lower in fat and calories than most red meats, you need to be aware of where the chicken has come from. If it has been raised on a farm that freely uses antibiotics in order for their animals to grow faster and bigger, which is extremely common in the poultry industry, then this meat will definitely not be good for your health. While free range, organic chicken may cost more, the price is worth paying, as not only will the meat be better for you, but it will also be far tastier, and packed with more vitamins and minerals. Chicken is one of the most versatile meats out there, and can be cooked in so many different ways, whether it be in a curry or as a roast.

pork
Pork Tenderloin
While many may believe that pork is packed with cholesterol and fat, this depends on the cut of pork that you choose. Instead of opting for bacon, try cooking up a pork tenderloin, as this is a lean meat that is low in fat. It is also extremely easy to cook, and can simply be left slow cooking all day, along with some vegetables, so that you can enjoy a hearty meal in the evening.

Red meat is a favorite of many, but, if you know that you are indulging in this slightly too often, now is the time to change your eating habits. Whether you substitute it for a hearty fish or a cut of organic chicken, these red meat alternatives will give a huge boost to your overall health.