Take care of your heart, don’t let it fall apart.
Almost 7 percent of all Canadians live with coronary heart disease, a condition where there is a blockage or narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease is the second overall leading cause of death in Canada after cancer. However, this number can be greatly reduced, as coronary heart disease, which is often caused by a buildup of fatty plaque inside the coronary arteries, is responsible for the most preventable deaths in the country.
Since the symptoms of heart disease normally show at an older age, it is a common misconception that heart disease only affects older people. The stats show us that the average age of a heart attack is the mid 60’s for men and the mid 70’s for women . However, the lack of symptoms shouldn’t put you off from caring about your heart. Often, the first symptom of heart disease could be deadly in the form of a heart attack. Heart and coronary artery health are built throughout an entire lifetime, so it deserves your attention even when at a young age.
February is heart health month, so take some time to learn about your heart. A healthy heart starts with good habits to help improve our cardiovascular health.
The list of benefits from regular exercise should be enough to convince you to get your heart rate faster for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise can help reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and boost HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Other benefits include burning calories, lowering your blood pressure, and lowering your risk for heart disease by almost two times.
For those who look for healthy ways to lose weight, there is no better way than exercise.
In conjunction with exercise, diet is an essential component in maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy heart. Avoid highly processed foods and foods with high amounts of added sugars. Include some of these heart-healthy foods into your diet:
- Flax Seeds: Having the great mix of being both high in soluble fibers and high in omega-3 fatty acids, flax or chia seeds are great for your heart.
- Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and other fatty fish like sardines and mackerel are helpful in lowering the risk of irregular heartbeat and lessening plaque buildup.
- Turmeric: In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, turmeric extract (cucurmin) was found to significantly improve the functional state of the blood vessels in adults over the period of two months . Tumeric helps with protecting the inner lining of blood vessels – an area of heart health that is normally overlooked because there are usually no symptoms.
- Green Tea: In a study performed in 2013, it was discovered that people who drank four or more cups of green tea per day had a 20% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which may be attributed to the high level of antioxidants in the drink .
- Nuts: Nuts of any kind contain high levels of protein and fiber that is good for your heart. In addition, nuts contain vitamin E, which helps lower levels of bad cholesterol.
- Dark Chocolate: Look for chocolate that has 60% cocoa or higher for heart-boosting benefits. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that may help with blood pressure, clotting, and inflammation.
- Oranges: Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, which has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
- Chia Seeds: Along with other grains high in soluble fiber, chia seeds help with lowering cholesterol levels. Soluble fibers help absorb cholesterol from the body so that it is not absorbed into the bloodstream.
At times, it may be difficult to include all the necessary components for cardiovascular health in your daily diet. Supplements help fill the gaps in your nutrition to help you take care of your heart. Common heart health supplements include EPA and DHA in fish oil rich in omega-3, lecithin to reduce cholesterol, and CoQ10 that acts as an antioxidant in the heart. A mix of heart-healthy foods and supplements is the ideal way to maintain a healthy heart.
 Suszynski, Marie. Heart Health is Important at Every Age. Everyday Health. Retrieved from: http://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/heart-health-is-important-at-every-age.aspx
 Founder, Sayer Ji. Turmeric: Better Than Aspirin For Heart Disease Prevention? Green Med Info. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/turmeric-extract-helps-open-your-arteries
 Gardner, Amanda. 18 Superfoods for your heart. Health.com. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20720182,00.html#green-tea-5