The process of bad cholesterol build up has two parts: increased LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreased HDL (good cholesterol.
Eating unhealthy foods high in saturated fat, consuming large amounts of alcohol, smoking, and lack of activity are all controllable factors that work to lower your good cholesterol levels and increase your bad cholesterol levels.
Factors that are out of your control, which might contribute to high cholesterol, are gender, race, and family history.
How does high cholesterol lead to heart problems?
When high amounts of LDL begin attaching to your artery walls, your white blood cells try to “eat” the LDL in order to protect your arteries.
Unfortunately, you white blood cells end up turning the cholesterol into something toxic—this is what builds up in your arteries in the form of plaque.
The plaque build up eventually leads to artery blockage, yes, but the real danger is the risk of a blood clot forming due to ruptured plaque.
These blood clots are what lead to heart attacks.
How Do I Know If I Have High Cholesterol?
Doctors recommend cholesterol testing every five years beginning at the age of 20. This test is called a lipoprotein analysis, which will measure the amount of HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol in your blood.
Before your cholesterol is tested, you will be asked to fast 12 hours before to ensure the most accurate test results. These tests don’t take long and involve minimal discomfort.
Reversing heart disease is not an easy task. It’s difficult to undo damage that has already been done, especially if it means turning your habits and life around entirely. You aren’t a magician or superhero, and heart disease is a serious thing!
How do you go about reversing heart disease when it seems to be ruling your life?
Sure, reversing heart disease sounds intimidating, but it IS possible! Here are some
steps to get you—and your heart—in the right place.
Don’t Confuse “Reverse” With “Prevent”
Let’s say your cardiovascular system is like a car, and you can be a good, safe driver and prevent something bad from happening, or you can be reckless and run the risk of getting into an accident and putting yourself in danger.
Remember this as we explain the difference between preventing and reversing heart disease.
Many get the term “reversing” confused with “preventing”.
In short, preventing heart disease is what everyone should be doing in the first place by making small and simple changes in every day life. We should all exercise more, keep dessert to a minimum, and eat all our food groups daily.
These efforts make sure that heart disease doesn’t occur in the first place. In prevention, your heart is a car and you’re trying to be a safe driver.
Reversing heart disease, however, means you’re literally trying to undo damage that has already been done. You may be standing on the threshold of a heart attack or stroke, you may already have sky-high blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar.
In the case of reversing heart disease, your heart is a car and it’s already been in a wreck. Now it’s time to fix things.
This is what we mean by reversing your heart disease.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
This means no more fooling yourself. Your mission is big, because the stakes are
high if you don’t make a change.
If your problems are serious enough, your doctor will not candy coat the issue.
He or she will be extremely upfront about the changes you must make to be healthy again. It’s also important to be honest with yourself. Having an attitude of honesty will help you in successfully reversing your heart disease.
Clean Out Your Kitchen
We aren’t talking about mops and dish soap. We’re talking about your pantry and refrigerator.
Clean it all out and start over. Get rid of the salty snacks, the sweets, the packaged and processed, the fatty, and the sugary foods. Anything that doesn’t look like it belongs in the food pyramid is the enemy and it must go.
Take away: frozen meals, chips, sweets, processed food (mac and cheese, hamburger helper, etc), sugar, white flour, soda, fruit juice
Add In: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole wheat flour and bread, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy products.
Have A Support System
It’s hard to take care of yourself when you have a family of other loved ones you take of.
Make sure your family and friends know about the efforts you are making to turn your health around. Reversing heart disease entails a major change in lifestyle, and it’s no easy task.
Encouragement and understanding from those close to you will make the process seem easier and help you feel as though you aren’t in it alone.
Break A Sweat Every Day
Get that heart pumping every day. Do something that makes you break a sweat for at least 20 minutes a day. No one said you have to spend hours in the gym to be healthy. To learn more about the importance of a cardio workout, read Why Cardio Benefits Heart Health.
If you can’t get outside, complete this equipment-free indoor workout:
20 jumping jacks
2 minutes stretching
Workout: Do circuit 4 times with 30 seconds rest between each exercise and 2 minutes rest between eat set.
30 seconds squats
1 minute jumping jacks
30 seconds high knees
1 minute lunges
30 second jump squats
Stress has been linked directly to inflammation in the circulatory system. Stress affects your immunity, blood sugar levels, healthy sleep patterns, and healthy eating habits.
You’re more likely to eat more and crave unhealthy foods when you’re stressed instead of taking your diet under serious consideration.
Destress your life by getting organized and allowing time for yourself daily.
Invest in a planner, make lists, keep an eyes on your calendar, and take an hour every day to do something you genuinely enjoy–read, take a walk, got to a movie, do a craft, catch up with a friend.
Mental health very easily affects physical health, so taking care of your mind will ultimately help you undo damage done to your heart.
Know Your Nutrients
Know the star players when it comes to the ultimate heart healthy nutrients, and learn how you can be getting more of those nutrients from your diet.
It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor on supplements you can take for certain nutrient deficiencies such as Omega-3s and magnesium, but sometimes you don’t need to supplement extra if you make sure you’re receiving those nutrients in your diet.
There is more talk about eating a heart healthy diet than ever before.
But what does it really mean and how can eating a heart healthy diet really help improve the health of your heart? Keep reading and we’ll shed some light on the whole heart healthy phenomenon.
Most people understand eating certain foods too often can be harmful to their heart and their health. But for most people, that’s about all they know and they aren’t even sure which foods to avoid and which ones they should make sure to eat.
A heart healthy diet is especially important for anyone with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, individuals who are overweight and so many other health concerns.
So what is a heart healthy diet and how can you make sure your diet is heart healthy? Here are a number of recommendations and tips on keeping your diet as healthy as possible.
Use as many calories as you take in – By using the calories you consume, you can prevent weight gain that can put unnecessary stress on your heart. Make sure you are getting regular exercise to avoid the calories being stored as fat.
Eat foods from all the food groups – Eating a variety of different foods can help you get more of the nutrients you need for overall better health.
Eat fewer nutrient-dense foods – Nutrient dense foods are those foods packed with calories, low in nutritional value and tiny in size. (i.e. candy bars, cookies, cakes and other snacks).
Base your eating on the following recommendations:
Eat lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare without added saturated fat and trans fat.
Eat fish at least twice a week. Research indicates eating oily fish with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your risk for coronary heart disease.
Eat fat-free and low-fat diary products.
Avoid partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat.
Reduce saturated fat to less than 6 percent of your total amount of calories.
Avoid food and beverages with added sugars.
Prepare and eat foods with little or no salt. Aim for less than 24 grams of sodium a day and 15 grams to lower your blood pressure.
If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. Limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman and two drinks a day if you’re a man.
When eating out, always be aware of the portion size you’re eating.
Tips to Making Your Diet More Heart Healthy
What You Should Include in Your Diet:
Fruits and vegetables
Beans and legumes
Nuts and seeds
Fat-free and low-fat dairy
Healthy fats and non-tropical oils
What You Should Limit in Your Diet:
Sodium and salt
Sweets and added sugars, especially sugar-sweetened beverages
What You Should Avoid in Your Diet:
Trans fat and partially hydrogenated oils
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to a heart healthy diet before you know it.
Compare nutrition information
Watch your calorie intake
Eat reasonable portions
Eat a variety of foods
Prepare and eat more often at home
Key nutrients for heart health
L-arginine – L-arginine is an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps to expand the blood vessels and improve overall blood pressure. By improving blood pressure levels, L-arginine is one of the best nutrients available for your heart.
L-arginine is found in many foods we eat but most of us don’t get significant amounts from our diets. Supplementing with L-arginine Plus helps to provide proven amounts of L-arginine so you see improvements in the health of your heart.
L-citrulline – L-citrulline is another one of the best amino acids for the health of your heart. L-citrulline also improves the amount of nitric oxide within the body to improve blood flow.
Magnesium – Many people are seriously low on magnesium even though the benefits for your heart really stand out. Low levels of magnesium can lead to high blood pressure and worse. Magnesium helps to ensure the muscles function properly around the blood vessels.
B Vitamins – Numerous studies have shown B vitamins help reduce the risk of heart problems. Studies have shown the B vitamins help lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that damages inner linings of arteries, leading to blood clots.
Resveratrol – Resveratrol is the key ingredient in red wine shown to improve the health of the heart. Resveratrol prevents damage to the blood vessels, reduces LDL cholesterol and reduces the risk for blood clots.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – For years the American Heart Association has recommended people eat fish one or two times a week to get more Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. These unsaturated fatty acids help reduce inflammation that can lead to damaged blood vessels and increased risk for heart disease.
Some aspects of a heart healthy diet are obvious: less fat, less sugar, less processed food. In fact, most will say that a heart healthy diet is the way we should all be eating in the first place—heart problems or not!
However, a diet to correct heart problems, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, may need to include or increase the traffic of specific nutrients.
Here, we’re going to highlight key players and nutrients in a heart healthy diet, what they do, and how you can start getting more of them!
Fiber is an essential part of a heart healthy diet, but it is so often overlooked or brushed off as a nutrient only used for easing constipation.
However, fiber has been proven to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Fiber is also indigestible, and causes food to stay in your stomach longer.
This helps you to feel fuller longer, aiding in appetite control, promoting weight loss, and managing blood glucose levels. Management of blood glucose is key to lowering your risk of diabetes and other heart diseases.
Natural sources of fiber are: Whole wheat, oats, almonds, and fruit. It is recommended that everyone gets 25g of fiber every day!
You hear it all the time. “Eat more fish. Get more Omega-3s.” But what do Omega 3s actually do for your heart health?
Omega 3s are unsaturated fatty acids that can be a more healthy replacement for saturated fats in other cuts of meat.
They may help reduce inflammation, decrease triglycerides (preventing cholesterol), lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of clotting and heart failure.
The recommended serving of Omega-3s (found in salmon, herring, and tuna) is two servings a week.
Heart problems, cardiovascular disease, and heart attacks are all issues predominantly associated with men’s health, yet coronary heart disease is the #1 killer for both men and women in the United States.
Heart problems in women can manifest themselves differently, and for different reasons than heart problems in men which leads to the misconception that heart disease is a man’s problem only.
Women need to take just as many precautions to avoid heart disease as men.
Then what’s the big deal with gender difference?
By understanding and recognizing the signs of heart problems in women, you’ll see heart problems in women are a greater cause for concern than you think.
The facts are alarming, but most of us don’t realize the problem is as big as it is for both women and men.
Every year, 1 in 4 women die of heart disease
Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer and lung cancer combined
The death rate of African American women due to heart disease is greater than the death rate of white women
More women than men die within one year of having a heart attack
The Risk Factors are Different for Women
Several risk factors for heart disease are common for both men and women including a lack of physical activity, a poor diet and genetics. However, women face a few other risk factors when it comes to heart disease.
Mental health problems will increase the risk of heart disease in women more than in men
Women tend to be less active than men, so their risk due to inactivity is greater
Pregnancy can provide complications such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These increase the risk for cardiovascular disease in women
Research shows aging and loss of estrogen in women after menopause may contribute to higher risk for heart disease. This is because:
The walls of blood vessels change, and therefore increase the risk of clots
Increase in fibrinogen, a substance that helps blood to clot
Changes in fat levels in blood, resulting in an increase of LDL or bad cholesterol.
Heart Attack Signs Are Different for Women
Heart attack symptoms often include chest pain, shortness of breath, or pressure in the chest for both men and women. However, heart attack signs in women can be more sneaky and even more severe.
Pain in the right arm
Nausea or vomiting
Neck, jaw, shoulder discomfort
Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease in Women
Taking the appropriate precautions and steps to improve your health can be key to reducing your risk for heart disease. The following typically applies to both men and women looking to reduce their risk for heart disease.
Know family history
Manage blood sugar
Don’t skip doctor’s appointments
Get cholesterol levels and blood pressure under control
While most of us think we know who is at risk for a heart attack, the truth is you never know.
That’s why it’s important to understand as much as possible about heart attacks, their warning signs, symptoms and how to reduce your risk for a heart attack.
A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, is a potentially fatal health problem caused by the blockage of arteries that feed blood to the heart.
These arteries are called the coronary arteries, and blockage is usually caused by build up of plaque made mainly of fat and cholesterol.
When a piece of plaque in your bloodstream ruptures, your body’s defense system sends platelets to the scene to patch up the rupture of the pre-existing plaque.
This blockage caused by platelets is what cuts off the blood, and therefore oxygen, supply to your heart. In minutes, your heart tissue begins to die from the oxygen deficiency.
This is a heart attack.
Unfortunately most people don’t know the signs of a heart attack. Yet knowing those signs can be key to preventing a fatal results. While chest pain is the most commonly recognized symptom of a heart attack, it’s definitely not the only symptom. Other signs and symptoms include:
Chest pain or tightness
Jaw pain, headache
Shortness of breath
Upper Back Pain
Acting on these early warning signs can help you survive a heart attack.
What To Do About a Heart Attack:
Call 911 immediately
relax and try to put as little mental or physical stress on your heart as possible
if you have access to aspirin, take it. This may help the clot in your artery from becoming worse
Try to stay warm; your body functions best and uses less energy when it is warm
The quicker you get to the hospital, the better. The earlier the treatment, the better the odds are of preventing further damage to your heart muscle.
Once at the hospital, your doctors may try multiple procedures depending on the severity of your case. Often you will be given aspirin to thin your blood and prevent clots,, you will be given oxygen and treatment for chest pain.
A Percutaneous Coronary Angioplasty may be used to open up blood flow in the blocked artery. During this procedure, a doctor may place a stent, or a mesh tube that prevents clotting or blockages for months or years to come.
A coronary Artery Bypass Grafting can be used to treat a heart attack depending on the case.
In this case, a surgeon will take a section of a healthy vein or artery and graft it to the blocked artery causing the heart attack. This way, the blood can “bypass” the blockage and still reach the heart via a different route.
Experiencing a heart attack is traumatic for the victim as well as friends and family of the victim. Especially since a heart attack leaves a victim at higher risk for another heart attack, and the heart muscle will never function quite as well again.
After surviving a heart attack, your doctor will most likely administer medicines to help chest pain, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, as well as recommending lifestyle changes such as no smoking, losing weight, and a different diet.
A heart attack victim who has had surgery to treat a heart attack will likely have longer recovery time and won’t return to normal activity as quickly.
As is common after any traumatic event, heart attack victims are at risk for anxiety and depression following their heart attack. Lifestyle changes aren’t always easy to make, and the worry of having another heart attack can be all-consuming.
Thankfully, there are support groups and therapy to help ease the mental side effects of physical trauma.
Are You At Risk?
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, have diabetes, if you are overweight, if you smoke, or have a poor diet, you’re at risk for suffering a heart attack. Based on family history of heart problems, you may already be predisposed to heart problems and heart attack risk.
What’s actually happening is a little more difficult to get control of for some. But without taking control, high blood pressure, or hypertension can lead to a number of serious health complications.
Every time your heart beats, blood is pumped through the entire body through your arteries. High blood pressure occurs when the arteries persistently pump the blood at a higher rate.
Your blood pressure is actually the force of your blood pushing against walls of your arteries.
What is hypertension and what is the problem with it? iIf left untreated can damage your organs, cause serious illness and lead to early death.
Normal blood pressure is below 120 mm Hg and 80 mm Hg. Blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 is classified as prehypertension while blood pressure of 140/90 is considered hypertension.
Classification of Hypertension
Hypertension is classified as either essential or secondary hypertension. When the cause is unknown, your hypertension will be classified as essential, which is about 95 percent of diagnosed hypertension. Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure with a known cause such as kidney disease, tumors or medications.
It’s estimated there are 70 million adults in the United States who are affected by hypertension with the condition affecting about two million teens and children.
What’s worse is the Center for Disease Control reports more than half of those with hypertension do not have their high blood pressure in control.
What Causes Hypertension?
As mentioned above, some factors contribute to hypertension such as disease, tumors or certain medications. In most cases, the reason is not known. Some causes include:
Lack of calcium, potassium and magnesium
Vitamin D deficiency
Excessive alcohol consumption
Adrenal and thyroid problems
What are the Symptoms of Hypertension?
Unfortunately, there are not very many symptoms that warn us we have hypertension.
Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer because most people suffer with it and they never know it until tragedy strikes. With that in mind, it’s important to get regular health checks.
Extremely high blood pressure may lead to more serious signs there is a problem. Problems include:
Blood in the urine
How is Hypertension Diagnosed?
Most people have seen the device called sphygmomanometer, it’s the device with the arm cuff, dial, pump and valve used to measure your blood pressure. Chances are you’ll have your blood pressure taken whenever you visit your doctor.
If you doctor suspects a problem, additional testing may be required because blood pressure results can be somewhat sporadic. Also inform your doctor of other risk factors such as smoking or family history of heart disease.
How Can I Treat Hypertension?
Treating your hypertension is critical to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
Doctors will often prescribe blood pressure medications, but you can do a lot to reduce your blood pressure if it’s too high by making some lifestyle changes.
Losing weight, quitting smoking, eating a heart healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol consumption will all help you move toward lower blood pressure.
Reducing your stress levels and considering natural alternatives may also help reduce your blood pressure.
Supplements such as those containing l-arginine and l-citrulline have been shown to help boost nitric oxide production in the body to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow.
If you’re interested in preventing hypertension after brining your blood pressure down or just to improve your health in general, getting adequate exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet can go a long way to preventing hypertension.
A doctor’s order to eat heart healthy food doesn’t have to be a prison sentence to bland boring food you dread.
Discover delicious, heart healthy freedom in one of these easy, go-to snacks that are sure to make your heart (and blood pressure AND cholesterol) sing.
These heart healthy recipes contain common, inexpensive ingredients and are great to keep on hand at home or at work for a snack that will make your doctor proud and help you control your blood pressure.
This recipe contains a pair of heart healthy powerhouses: tomatoes and black beans.
Enjoy this snack on a whole grain tortilla, with flaxseed chips, or as a topping on a bed of dark leafy greens.
3 (15 oz) cans of black beans
1 can corn
3 large tomatoes, diced
2 bunches of green onions, chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves
4 1/2 avocado, diced
1 tsp. lime juice
black ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Drain and rinse the black beans and drain the corn.
Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix gently.
Chill overnight for best flavor before serving.
2)Garlic Kale Chips:
Kale contains fiber,omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and vitamins A, c and K just to name a few of it’s superfood properties. Transform those dark, leafy green into something you like, chips.
1 small bunch of kale
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black ground pepper
Preheat your over to 350 degrees F
Rinse and dry kale leaves thoroughly
Tear or chop kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, removing the center spine of the leaf if desired
Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, add minced garlic, salt, and pepper
Don’t be afraid to get messy! With clean hands, toss the kale until coated evenly with olive oil, garlic, pepper, and salt
Spread kale in a single layer on baking sheets
Bake until crisp, and edges are slightly browned, about 12-15 minutes
3)Spinach Walnut Salad
This combination of spinach, walnuts, and fruit provides a packed house full of nitric oxide, vitamins, and omega-3s.
Option: Add lean protein to this salad such as chicken, salmon, turkey, tofu, or eggs
6 cups baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup chopped apple
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 minced garlic clove
½ cup olive oil
ground pepper and sea salt
To make the dressing, combine olive oil, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinaigrette, minced garlic, salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Whisk until well combined and chill.
In a large bowl, toss the baby spinach, diced apple, cranberries, and walnuts together. Add lean protein if desired.
Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over salad, toss, and serve
4)Apples and Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip
If you struggle to incorporate enough fruit into your diet, dips like this can help add flavor and variety. Whether you eat it with apples, bananas or any other fruit, this one is a heart healthy recipes that’s so delicious.
1 (5-ounce) container plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp. all-natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 apples, cored and sliced
Mix yogurt, peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl until well-blended. Enjoy this tasty dip with apples, bananas, or strawberries!
5) Mediterranean Tuna Salad:
This isn’t your mayonnaise-packed tuna salad you used to hate, this is a heart healthy recipe made to give you full flavor in every bite.
It’s easy to make and you’ll be ready to enjoy something heart healthy in just a few minutes.
1 (5 oz.) can of tuna in water, drained
1 tbsp basil
¼ cup chopped green onion
½ stalk celery, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Combine drained tuna, basil, celery, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Use a fork to combine thoroughly. Add olive oil to taste, and to moisten tuna to your desired consistency (usually 1-2 tbsp.). Salt and pepper to taste.
Research indicates a healthy diet is one of the most important ways to control and reduce blood pressure.
If you’re looking for foods that lower blood pressure, you’re probably already familiar with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, a plan focused to help individuals lower their blood pressure by eating a variety of whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts while eating limited amounts of fats, red meats, sweets and sugary beverages.
While the plan may be a perfect approach for some, others just want to know what foods they can eat to help lower their blood pressure without changing their entire diet.
Here is a list of foods that lower blood pressure according to recent research:
1 – Dairy
In a 2012 review and analysis of several studies published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, researchers found links between the consumption of low-fat diary and a reduced risk of hypertension. The link was connected to those consuming low-fat yogurt and low-fat milk.
It’s believed the peptides released during digestion help protect the heart and reduce blood pressure.
2 – Flaxseed
According to a 2013 study published in the journal Hypertension, consuming flaxseed from a variety of sources was linked to lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure over a six-month period. While it’s not exactly clear how flaxseed makes a difference, the following compounds are believed to be the difference: alpha linolenic acid, lignans, peptides and fiber.
3 – Raisins
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky, individuals with borderline hypertension were given raisins three times a day for 12 weeks, which helped to significantly reduce blood pressure. The high potassium is believed to be responsible but the fiber, tannins and antioxidants may also play a role in helping to reduce blood pressure.
4 – Chocolate
Surprised to see chocolate on the list? Eating dark chocolate or other cocoa products rich in flavanols has been linked to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure among those with hypertension or pre-hypertension according to meta-anlysis in BMC Medicine. It’s the flavanols that offer the benefits because they’ve been linked to increased nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide helps to widen the blood vessels and improves blood flow to help lower blood pressure.
5 – Olive Oil
In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Hypertension, researchers compared a diet that included polyphenol-rich olive oil with a diet that didn’t contain any polyphenols. The polyphenol-rich diet was linked to drops in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
6 – Beets
Participants in a 2013 study in Nutrition Journal drank beet plus apple juice or plain apple juice and then had their blood pressure monitored over 24 hours. Researchers saw a reduction in systolic blood pressure just six hours after drinking the beet juice. Beets contain nitrates, which help reduce blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide within the body.
7 – Pistachios
A study published in the journal Hypertension examined pistachio consumption and blood pressure. Eating the nuts helped increase the volume of blood pumped from the heart and it’s believed the pistachios help reduce the constriction of peripheral blood vessels.
8 – Pomegranate
British researchers looked at the effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure. Consuming more than a cup of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks was linked to reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure according to the results of the study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Pomegranate juice contains both potassium and polyphenols, both believed to help reduce blood pressure.
9 – Fatty Fish
Significant research has gone into examining the benefits of fatty fish related to blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Research published in the journal Nutrition found a link between eating fatty fish such as salmon to a reduction in diastolic blood pressure over eight week. Research has shown the omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure.
10 – Whole Grains
British researchers compared a diet of whole wheat to a diet of refined grains and discovered those eating three servings of whole grains has been linked to a reduction in systolic blood pressure. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is one of many studies showing the benefits of regularly eating whole grains.
11 – Hibiscus
Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found drinking three servings of hibiscus tea daily over the course of six weeks helped lower blood pressure for individuals with pre-hypertension or mild high blood pressure. The antioxidants in the hibiscus tea are believed to be the reason why it helps lower blood pressure.
While this list is in no way a comprehensive list of the foods that lower blood pressure, it provides you a place to start with enough variety to help you find something you enjoy.
A healthy diet can make a big difference in lowering blood pressure and improving overall health.
We all know a healthy lifestyle includes exercise, especially cardio exercise that gets your heart and blood pumping.
But, why is cardio exercise so important to heart health? What happens to your body when you do cardio exercise regularly?
Cardio Benefits for Inner Health
We know the benefits of exercise mainly by the exterior results we see. We have less fat on our body, we look slimmer and healthier, but what’s happening on the inside?
Cardiorespiratory exercise (aka, cardio), is a workout for your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.
When you run, swim, jump rope, ride a bike, or generally get your heart rate up and blood pumping, you are making it work harder. That additional work, strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system overall. While you might not see a difference on the outside, you’ll feel the difference.
Your Heart Is A Muscle Too
Like other muscles, when your heart has to work harder at its job, it becomes stronger and more efficient.
Just as your legs get better at holding you up and moving your body the more you run, your heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood the harder it has to work.
When your heart can more efficiently pump blood, day to day activities will become easier and you can lower your resting heart rate, or your heart rate when you aren’t particularly active or exerting yourself.
Regular cardio helps you to lose weight. You know that.
But unhealthy amounts of excess fat allow your body to hold onto low-density lipoproteins, or the bad cholesterol in your blood.
Research shows regular exercise could stimulate enzymes that transport bad cholesterol out of the blood and into the liver where it is converted or expelled from the body.
5 Easy Ways To Get More Cardio Exercise
1 – Walk your dog
Nothing will keep you more accountable than a pet that needs to be exercised. Taking your dog for regular walks is a great way to bond with your canine, give your walk a sense of purpose, and fit some cardio into your day.
2 – Join a friend
Do you have a friend who walks in the park about every day? Or maybe a co worker who likes to take a stroll on their lunch break? Ask if you can join! This will also keep you accountable, and prevent you from feeling discouraged or alone in your cardio and health goals.
3 – Walk on your lunch break
Your lunch break is a precious hour of time, we know. But Even 20 minutes doing laps around the building will not only boost your mood and energy for the rest of the day, it adds up quickly to the 100 minutes of cardio doctors recommend having every week. Other than the weight, what’s there to lose?
4 – Take a jump rope
Maybe it’s too cold, there’s bad weather, or your traveling. Being cooped up inside doesn’t have to keep you from getting your cardio in. A jump rope is easy to pack or carry, and is a no-brainer for a great indoor cardio workout.
5 – Ditch the car
Your neighborhood pharmacy is just a couple blocks away. You’re meeting a friend for coffee half a mile up the street. Ditch your car! Walk or bike to meet a friend or when making a pharmacy run! Not only are you accomplishing something, you’re getting the daily dose of cardio efficiently.
The month of February has been American Heart Month since 1964 when then President Lyndon B Johnson made the declaration urging more Americans to consider the health of their heart.
“Now, Therefore, I, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States of America do hereby proclaim the month of February 1964 as American Heart Month; and I invite the governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to issue similar proclamations,” President Johnson Declared in December 1963.
Of course it’s the perfect month with the heart and love as the focus. But far more important and far less recognized is how vital it is to take care of your heart.
During this time, charities, doctors, and many other organizations are working hard to raise awareness of the leading cause of death in America.
So where do you factor in? Participate in observing American Heart Month by getting to know and understand your own heart health, and encouraging loved ones to do the same. By gaining and sharing further knowledge, we can help prevent the rise of cardiovascular-related illness and death, and build a healthier future for America.
The Statistics of Heart Disease, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
• 1 in every 4 deaths is cause by heart disease
• coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease
• every year, 720,000 American have a heart attack
• you’re at risk for heart disease if you have diabetes, a poor diet, are inactive, or overweight
• about 47% of sudden cardiac deaths happen outside hospital walls
• During the month of February, all CVS pharmacies will offer special savings on heart healthy vitamins, aspirin, and blood pressure monitors. Locations will also sport a “Heart Health Center’ that will place heart healthy products in a visible, accessible area in the store.
• Walgreens: you will have the option to donate to the American Heart Association at the checkout counter in any Walgreens through February 14th.
• The Mount Sinai Health System will host a variety of educational seminars, health fairs, and other events at each of their locations. Research health systems in your area to find out if similar events and opportunities are available.
Do your research with any of these reliable sources for other option to take part in American Heart Month.
• Get at least 100 minutes of exercise weekly
• Eat a heart healthy diet (Read about what a heart healthy diet is)
• Cut out smoking
• Stay up to date on your check-ups
• Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have
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