This month February is Heart Awareness Month, which gives us the perfect opportunity to discuss many foods as well as lifestyle and living habits that contribute to heart health. We will also be talking about heart disease, what it means, how it is affecting the United States, and what we can do to keep our loved ones protected. In this article we will guide you through simple and easy steps to better care for your hearts.
Facts to Know:
Cardiovascular disease, including, heart disease and stroke is currently the leading cause of death in the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports over 2,000 Americans die each day from cardiovascular disease. The best way to reduce your risk and not be a statistic is to empower yourself with the proper preventative steps keeping your heart as healthy as possible.
Million Hearts – a fabulous organization focused on enhancing cardiovascular disease prevention – MH has established a national initiative working with communities, health systems, federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, as well as private-sector partners, preventing one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
Million Hearts plans to do this by:
- Improving access to effective care
- Improving the quality of care for ABCS
- Focusing clinical attention on the prevention of heart attack and stroke
- Educating the public in leading a heart-healthy lifestyle – and what that looks like
- Improving prescription and adherence to appropriate medications for the ABCS
Knowing Your ABCs Will help Improve your Heart Health
A – Appropriate aspirin use – Ask your doctor anout aspirin regimens to reduce your risk for heart attacks.
B – Blood pressure control – Controlling your blood pressure will reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.
C – Cholesterol management – Improving your diet to aid in reduced fat and cholesterol intake. If it is high Working with your healthcare professional for guidance In lowering your cholesterol levels.
S – Smoking cessation – Talking to your healthcare professional to connect you with painless tools to help you quit smoking.
Foods That Are Great For Your Heart
It’s not hard to follow a heart-healthy diet. Here are some satisfying foods that are also good for your heart.
Avocados are packed with heart-healthy fat and allow for the absorption of carotenoids. According to the American Heart Association, good fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and are healthy when consumed in moderation. Avocados contribute good fats to your diet, providing 3 grams of monounsaturated fat and 0.5 polyunsaturated grams fat per 1-oz. serving. Avocados are the only fruit that contains monounsaturated fat to help lower LDL levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels. They are also a cholesterol and sodium free food.
Berries – including blueberries, raspberries and strawberries – are all great for vascular health packed with anti-inflammatories to reduce cancer and heart disease risks. A most recentstudy – published in Circulation – reports that young women that consume blueberries and strawberries may have a reduced risk of heart attack. Eat your berries!
Broccoli is high in vitamin C and fiber, it contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties. It is also rich in lutein and a good amount of beta-carotene. A few years ago researchers in the United Kingdom stated in a study for the journal Diabetes that eating broccoli could reverse the damage done to heart blood vessels by diabetes because the vegetable contains a compound called sulforaphane and that it increased enzymes to protect heart blood vessels and reduced molecules that damage them. Broccoli is such an important vegetable to be consuming due to it endless health benefits.
Fatty fish – salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, halibut, Lake Trout and Albacore Tuna – are heart healthy because of their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids – these reduce blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots.
Information provided by the National Institutes of Health, states that flaxseed and its components may improve cardiovascular health because of its wonderful health attributes. Ground flaxseed is loaded with fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and is great when used as a topping for oatmeal and whole-grain cereal. It also contains soluble and insoluble fiber, log and, which have plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. There is evidence that flaxseed may help reduce risk of cancer, stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
Legumes – such as chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and lentils – are loaded with calcium, soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lose weight. The Cleveland Clinic lists legumes as a great healthy addition to your diet for boosting heart health and reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Nuts – such as almond, macadamia and walnut – are considered a great source of healthy fat and fiber in the diet. The Mayo Clinic states that eating nuts as part of a healthy diet can be good for your heart lowering the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol levels in the blood, while reducing the risk of developing blood clots that can cause fatal heart attacks. Eating nuts can also greatly improve the health of the lining of your arteries. Most nuts contain at least some heart-healthy substances including unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols and L-arginine.
Oatmeal is a fiber-rich superfood that is loaded with folate, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also good for your arteries and lowers levels of LDL cholesterol. Coarse or steel-cut oatmeal is recommended over the instant variety because they contain more fiber. The Mayo Clinic also states that oatmeal contains soluble fiber which reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream and reduce LDL. Oatmeal is a great healthy breakfast or snack. If you have a busy schedule it’s great to make ahead of time and have it ready for your week. We love to top it with some berries for a fast, healthy and delicious fix.
This power packed leafy green is wonderful for eye health, as well as prevention of cancer. Spinach also promotes cardiovascular heath, states SuperFoodsRx. The vitamin C, beta-carotene and other nutrients rich in spinach work together to prevent oxidized cholesterol from building up in the blood vessel walls. Folate is also an important contributor to the health of the heart, as it works, along with B6 and betaine, to lower serum levels of the dangerous amino acid homocysteine. The potassium and magnesium in spinach also make significant aids to heart health and both work to lower blood pressure and risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke.