Drinking at least 5 glasses of water a day could dramatically reduce your heart attack risk.
Experts say that drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day can improve your overall health. Even more enticing: Preliminary studies suggest that drinking water regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Researchers looked at the daily water intake of more than 20,000 adults. Those who drank five or more 8-ounce glasses of water a day were less likely to die from a heart attack or other heart disease-related causes than those who drank fewer than two glasses a day. For example, men who drank at least five glasses had a 54% reduced risk of fatal heart disease. Women cut their risk by 41%.
George Le-Bert, DO, a cardiologist with Baptist Heart Specialists in Fernandina Beach, says the connection between water consumption and heart health needs to be explored more thoroughly. However, medical observers think the magic may be in the minerals.
"Generally, it seems that people who live in areas with harder water—and by that, we mean water that contains minerals like calcium and magnesium—tend to have fewer heart attacks," he says. "It seems that these minerals have some beneficial effect on blood pressure, which can improve heart health."
If so, says Dr. Le-Bert, the best water for the job is municipal tap water.
"I think most people today agree that good tap water—and Florida generally does a good job in providing quality tap water—is better than bottled water because tap water still has some minerals in it," he says. "Many types of bottled water don't. Plus, there are the hazards and environmental concerns associated with plastic containers. So, enjoy the financial rewards of drinking from the tap."
Drink Water to Stay Fit
Water has other heart-healthy properties, including weight control. Dr. Le-Bert notes that drinking water curbs appetite and drinking cool water helps the body burn calories. Decreased calorie intake and increased calorie burning can keep excess pounds from adding up. And even if consuming water didn't boost heart health, there would be many other reasons to drink up.
"Dehydration has many negative effects," says Dr. Le-Bert. "It impedes physical performance, affects your thinking, can promote kidney stones, and causes constipation and headaches. How much water an individual needs depends on many factors. Try to have a glass of water with each meal and at least one glass of water between meals as a general guideline."
Whatever you do, don't substitute soda for water.
"One sweetened soda a day over time can increase your risk of cardiac disease by 20%," says Dr. Le-Bert. "This is largely due to the sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in these drinks. Sweetened sodas increase body weight, which increases your blood pressure and your risk of diabetes. Fruit juices are a healthier alternative, but fruit juices still have calories. Drink them in moderation or you will gain weight."