The lifestyle you live has the biggest impact on your heart health. Even if heart disease runs in your family you can trump those genetics by adopting a heart healthy lifestyle!
First know that cholesterol is not the enemy, your body actually makes 800 to 1500 mgs of cholesterol daily! Your hearts enemies are foods that cause systemic inflammation in your arteries forcing cholesterol to be used to patch and repair vascular sores. These foods are prevalent in the American diet.
What you are about to read should make you run in your kitchen and fire up a salad, smoothie or Vive. Did you know that a plant-based diet has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of and even reverse heart and cardiovascular disease? You can listen to Dr. Dean Ornish and some of his patients at this link. http://www.youtube.com/user/DrDeanOrnish
Many factors can affect our heart health. Our diet (excessive simple sugars), stress, and other lifestyle factors like smoking and the amount of physical activity we get play a huge role in heart health.
In about a day your heart beats 100,000 times pumping around 2000 gallons of blood to 100 trillion cells through 60 thousand miles of blood vessels. Every time I think of that it amazes me!
The heart is not just an organ, it is also a muscle. The heart requires a lot of energy and quality nutrition to keep it healthy. Your heart is a very unique organ and unlike other organs and muscles, it does not become fatigued. It only stops when oxygen is no longer available.
Exercise increases the hearts fitness so it can deliver more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Develop a good exercise program after approval from your doctor!
Because of the great energy requirements put on the heart, nutrition is very important. Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, enzymes and antioxidants are super important for heart health.
- Plant based foods provide a bounty of nutrients and antioxidants the body needs for great heart health.
- Studies show Nuts and seeds consumed daily reduce the risk for heart disease. They are anti-inflammatory and a good source of Vitamin E, which, is very important for cell membrane health and is also an antioxidant.
- Omega 3’s from Salmon, sardines, ground flax seed and walnuts reduce inflammation and keep blood platelets from sticking, reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease
- Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables reduce inflammation and protect the heart from free radical damage. The greater the volume of oxygen is needed in a cell to make energy, the higher the potential for free radical damage. The heart is a big air and fluid pump. So antioxidants are even more important for the heart muscle.
- Magnesium is very important for heart health because it helps blood vessels relax, potentially reducing blood pressure, which, if high, can damage the heart.
- B Vitamins are critical for preparing foods for the conversion to energy.
- B12, Folate and B6 are critical to reduce the protein homocysteine from accumulating in our tissues. Homocysteine causes cellular damage to the heart and blood vessels and heavily associated with heart disease.
- Iron, B12, Vitamin C and Folate are important to make healthy red blood cells and blood vessels.
- Vitamin E from food and Co-Q10 from foods are important heart protectors.
Some of the best foods for heart health are:
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans)
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens)
- Brussel sprouts
- Bell peppers
- Hot peppers
- Beans (pinto, garbanzo, black)
- Goji Berries
- Sweet Potatoes
- Wild rice
Heart Health Destroyers
Sadly the American diet is the perfect diet if you want poor heart health. It is rich in sodium, sugar and bad fats and low in nutrient rich foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds and whole grains, which promote health.
If you love your heart it would be best to avoid or limit these foods in your diet. These foods are health destroyers!
- Foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol (meats, processed meats, eggs, cows milk and cheese)
- Processed meats
- Foods high in sodium
- Foods high in sugars particularly added sugars such as (refined sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, confectioners sugar, brown sugar etc..)
- Fried foods
- Flour based foods (includes breading on fried foods, cookies, crackers, cereals, pastries, breads, pasta) Flour can turn to blood sugar as quickly as table sugar.
- Excess sugar is a powerful risk factor in your diet because it creates inflammation and sores in your arteries, which forces your body to use cholesterol to repair them. This makes arteries stiffer creating more sores or tears requiring more cholesterol. It’s a vicious cycle that accelerates heart and vascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Other Heart Health Factors
- Stress is a killer! It creates hormonal changes that raise blood pressure, cause obesity and eventually damage your heart.
- A lack of exercise let’s muscles atrophy, becoming weaker. Your heart and blood vessels are muscles and need exercise to be in top health.
- A lack of sleep creates systemic stress putting additional stress on your heart.
- Cigarettes destroy your blood vessels and lungs. Both are critical for your heart to be healthy.
- Limit alcohol to no more than 3 drinks per week.
Having 2 smoothies a day filled with every color of vegetable and fruit, nuts and seeds is going to get you on the right track for great heart health.
- Have Vive twice per day to make sure you are getting the heart healthy nutrients you need.You can add Vive to smoothies and make them even better!
- Avoid added sugars; the healthiest sweeteners are stevia and raw honey.
- Reduce your intake of animal fats
- Make your diet mostly vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts and seeds and limited low glycemic whole grains
- Exercise daily
- De-stress by exercising, enjoying friends and laughing!
- Reduce your salt intake to 1300 mgs per day to reduce blood pressure.
- Drink plenty of clean water
- Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly
Happy healthy eating!
Wally Bishop C.N.C
The contents of this blog are not and should not be considered medical advice. This blog is for informational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Never quit taking prescription medications unless advised to do so by your doctor.