Important HEART Health To Do’s

EAT: Pomegranites, Nuts, and Chocolate

  • Pomegranate offers abundant benefits for the cardiovascular system by preventing damage to arterial walls, promoting healthy blood pressure levels, improving blood flow to the heart, and preventing or reversing atherosclerosis.
  • Pomegranate may benefit people with diabetes and those at risk for the disease. Pomegranate helps lower after-meal blood sugar levels and protects the cardiovascular system from diabetes-induced damage.
  • Pomegranate shows promise in killing prostate cancer cells, whether the cells are hormone-sensitive or not. Pomegranate also helped halt the progression of prostate cancer in men who had undergone surgery or radiation for the disease.
  • Pomegranate may fight the degeneration of joint tissue that leads to painful osteoarthritis, and may protect the brain against oxidative stress-induced changes that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Pomegranate extracts—alone or in combination with the herb gotu kola—help kill the bacteria that contribute to dental plaque, while helping to heal gum disease. Pomegranate also appears to protect the health of the skin and liver.
  • The health benefits of pomegranate can be conveniently obtained through the use of low-cost, concentrated juices and extracts.

See the full article with references at Life Extension Magazine.

A 2017 review published in Pharmacological Research of eight clinical trials showed pomegranate juice reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The effect remained even when consuming pomegranate juice at different amounts. The authors concluded it “may be prudent to include this fruit juice in a heart-healthy diet.”

See the full article and references at Heart.org.

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other tree nuts deliver a powerful punch of heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Including them in your diet can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Remember to keep the serving size small, suggests the AHATrusted Source. While nuts are full of healthy stuff, they’re also high in calories.

Dark chocolate not only tastes delicious, it also contains heart-healthy flavonoids. These compounds help reduce inflammation and lower your risk of heart disease, suggest scientists in the journal Nutrients. Eaten in moderation, dark chocolate — not oversweetened milk chocolate — can actually be good for you. The next time you want to indulge your sweet tooth, sink it into a square or two of dark chocolate. No guilt required.

LEARN: Numbers

Keeping your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides in check is important for good heart health. Learn the optimal levels for your sex and age group and get your results from your doctor. Take steps to reach and maintain those ideal levels. And remember to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor. If you want to make your doctor happy, keep good records of your vitals or lab numbers, and bring them to your appointments.

MOVE: Exercising

No matter how much you weigh, sitting for long periods of time could shorten your lifespan, warn researchers in the Archives of Internal MedicineTrusted Source and the American Heart AssociationTrusted Source. Couch potato and desk jockey lifestyles seem to have an unhealthy effect on blood fats and blood sugar. If you work at a desk, remember to take regular breaks to move around. Go for a stroll on your lunch break, and enjoy regular exercise in your leisure time.

Start and stop, then start and stop again. During interval training, you alternate bursts of intense physical activity with bouts of lighter activity. The Mayo Clinic reports that doing so can boost the number of calories you burn while working out.

Exercise is essential for good heart health, so why not sneak it in at every opportunity? Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park on the far side of the parking lot. Walk to a colleague’s desk to talk, instead of emailing them. Play with your dog or kids at the park, instead of just watching them. Every little bit adds up to better fitness.

The next time you feel overwhelmed, exasperated, or angry, take a stroll. Even a five-minute walk can help clear your head and lower your stress levels, which is good for your health. Taking a half-hour walk every day is even better for your physical and mental health.

Aerobic fitness is key to keeping your heart healthy, but it’s not the only type of exercise you should do. It’s also important to include regular strength training sessions in your schedule. The more muscle mass you build, the more calories you burn. That can help you maintain a heart-healthy weight and fitness level.

DRINK: Red Wine and Tea

Moderate consumption of alcohol can help raise your levels of HDL, or good cholesterol. It can also help prevent blood clot formation and artery damage. According to the Mayo Clinic, red wine in particular may offer benefits for your heart. That doesn’t mean you should guzzle it at every meal. The key is to only drink alcohol in moderation.

No magic is needed to brew up a cup of green or black tea. Drinking one to three cups of tea per day may help lower your risk of heart problems, reports the AHA. For example, it’s linked to lower rates of angina and heart attacks.

CUT: Salt and Fats

If the entire U.S. population reduced its average salt intake to just half a teaspoon a day, it would significantly cut the number of people who develop coronary heart disease every year, report researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors suggest that salt is one of the leading drivers of rising healthcare costs in the United States. Processed and restaurant-prepared foods tend to be especially high in salt. So think twice before filling up on your favorite fast-food fix. Consider using a salt substitute, such as Dash, if you have high blood pressure or heart failure.

Slicing your saturated fat intake to no more than 7 percent of your daily calories can cut your risk of heart disease, advises the USDA. If you don’t normally read nutrition labels, considering starting today. Take stock of what you’re eating and avoid foods that are high in saturated fat.

STOP: Stress and Smoking

Stress can play a role in your heart health.[11] Increased stress releases cortisol and adrenaline, which elevates blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Stress-related behaviors can also negatively affect your health, causing you to smoke more, drink more, overeat, and be physically inactive. All these behaviors will contribute negatively to your heart health. [12]

Using tobacco increases your risk of heart damage. Both tobacco and nicotine contain many chemicals that cause harm to your blood vessels and heart, and this results in atherosclerosis, which is a plaque build-up of cholesterol, fat, and calcium in your vessels that can cause your arteries to narrow, decreasing blood flow.[1][2]

  • The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke has also been linked to mortality and morbidity.[3] It interferes with oxygen, so your heart is pressured into supplying additional oxygen to compensate. The tightening of the blood vessels, partnered by the stress on the heart can both result in a heart attack. The only way to stop this burden on your heart and strive for a healthier heart is to stop smoking.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 deaths in the United States is caused by cigarette smoking. According to the National Institute of Health, smoking is the main preventable cause of mortality in the United States.[4]

START: Meditation and Supplements

There’s more to heart attack and stroke prevention than medications, exercise, and diet. The latest research confirms that people who practice meditation are significantly less likely to have a heart attack or stroke or die within five years. “Meditation can be a useful part of cardiovascular risk reduction,” says cardiologist Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a professor at Harvard Medical School. “I do recommend it, along with diet and exercise. It can also help decrease the sense of stress and anxiety.”

How does meditation affect you physiologically? “It appears to produce changes in brain activity. It also can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress,” says Dr. Bhatt.

There are many types of meditation that can result in physiological benefits, such as guided meditation, which uses mental images to help you relax; Transcendental Meditation, which uses a repeated sound or phrase to help you empty your mind; and mindfulness meditation, which focuses on the present moment and helps you to accept it without judgment. To get in on the benefits, take the advice of Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Herbert Benson, a world-renowned expert in mind-body medicine. “Getting started is easy. You can learn in one minute. But you’ll have to do it for at least 10 minutes a day to get the physiological effects,” he says.

See the full article and references from Harvard Health.

  1. L-arginine—this amino acid converts to nitric oxide in the body, which helps blood vessels open wider. It also supports heart energy, blood pressure levels, and circulation to the extremities.
  2. Omega-3—found in fish oils and in some nuts and seeds, these essential fatty acids can help lower the risk of heart disease
  3. Co-Q10—supports heart health and blood pressure and it may improve endurance
  4. Resveratrol—found primarily in red grapes and wine, resveratrol helps protect the hear and makes blood more slippery
  5. Hawthorn—these common berries contain flavonoids that support blood pressure already in the normal range and offer other benefits
  6. Guggulipid—the name sounds like a fat, but it’s actually a plant extract that supports cholesterol and triglyceride levels already in the normal range
  7. Magnesium—this essential mineral promotes heart health and helps support blood pressure and cholesterol levels already in the normal range
  8. Green Tea—The Chinese have used this powerful antioxidant for thousands of years. Green tea supports healthful blood pressure levels and may offer preventive benefits.
  9. Garlic—supports healthy cholesterol levels and may help improve blood viscosity
  10. Red Yeast Rice—naturally supports cholesterol levels already in the normal range
  11. Niacin—(vitamin B3) may help lower cardiovascular risks and supports already-normal cholesterol levels
  12. Vitamin B6—along with vitamin B12 and folate, this vitamin supports heart and red blood cell health

Sources: Monte, Tom. The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, 1997. www.WebMD.com www.prevention.com/health.

To Do's for a healthy heart.

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