6 Tips to a Healthier Heart

Cardiovascular disease continues to top the list of biggest killers in America, accounting for one in every three deaths. The American Heart Association has projected that in the next 20 years, 45% of the American population will develop cardiovascular disease. What can we do to reduce our risk?

  1. Reduce waist measurement: The circumference of your waist – that is how wide it is at the largest part – is a good indication of cardiovascular risk. To keep risk low, your waist should be no more than half your height. Reduce your waist measurement by dropping ‘inflammatory’ foods which promote weight storage around the middle. Inflammatory foods include sugar (such as soda), alcohol, grain-fed meat, artificial sweeteners and flavors, anything deep fried and dairy foods.
  1. Increase your omega 3 intake: A recent study indicated that low blood levels of omega 3 (a type of fatty acid) is a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than cholesterol. People with higher blood levels of omega 3 had a 34% lower risk for death from any cause, so get eating oily fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel or fresh ground flaxseeds and chia seeds daily.
  1. Eat more beans/pulses: 2/3 cup daily of pulses such as lentils and chickpeas do many good things for your heart and cardiovascular system, including improving blood lipid composition, lowering cholesterol both total and LDL ‘the bad’ cholesterol. Pulses also increase the feeling of fullness, thereby reducing our food intake and excess weight from overeating; pulses also support blood sugar control; and reduce blood pressure and inflammation – all great news for your heart!
  1. Reduce highly processed foods/grains: White flour bakery goods like cakes, donuts and white bread and cookies all raise blood sugar levels dramatically which is both damaging to blood vessels and a recipe for weight gain. Eating sugary food – which is basically what processed grains are – can also contribute to excess fats in the blood which is not good news for your heart. Favor vegetables in place of lots of grains, and when eating grains go for the ‘brown’ varieties such as dark rye bread, whole meal pasta and brown rice.
  1. Stand up and walk around: Living a sedentary lifestyle doubles the risk of heart disease. If you have a desk job, look into getting a standing desk, increase the time you spend standing or walking around. Aim to take 15 000 steps per day to really cut your risk. A pedometer can help encourage you and starting small is okay, every step helps.
  1. Eat more plants: Eating a rainbow-colored variety of plants foods, preferably organic, will ensure you are getting a great dose of antioxidants which can mop up damage and prevent cardiovascular deterioration. Eating more plants means you will also get a healthy dose of fiber which is important for normalizing cholesterol levels and ridding the body of toxins.




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