Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in America, according to the American Heart Association. It is estimated that at least 100 million Americans have one or more of the risk factors associated with heart disease. Finding a natural way to prevent and combat heart disease is a top priority for the majority of our population. Taking care of your heart includes eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and proactively maintaining normal cholesterol levels.
A heart-healthy diet consist of whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, and low fat protein (like soy). You also need to limit your intake of saturated fats (beef, butter, cheese, etc.) and avoid trans fats (fast food, bakery products, many snack foods, etc.). Including monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc.) in your diet has been shown to decrease your risk of heart disease. Another fat that can reduce your risk of heart disease is a type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acid (fish and flaxseed). Making sure your diet includes adequate fiber is also important for heart health, so taking fiber supplements with at least 5 grams of fiber can help you reach your goal.
Exercising regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure, and improve your cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Some of the best heart-healthy exercises are walking, running, and swimming, as your individual health allows. Even common activities you do around the house, like cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, and working in the garden, can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Eating right and exercising can help you maintain a healthy weight. Belly fat, also known as visceral fat, is the worst for your heart. Visceral fat has been linked to many health problems that put your heart at risk such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and inflammation in the body. Maintaining a healthy weight is best achieved with a program that promotes the loss of fat while also helping to preserve muscle mass.
Getting your cholesterol levels checked is a good place to start assessing your risk of developing heart disease. When it comes to cholesterol we have two types, HDL (good) and LDL (bad). The National Institutes of Health recommend the following cholesterol levels:
– Total Cholesterol – less than 200 mg / dL
LDL Cholesterol – less than 130 mg / dL
– HDL Cholesterol – 60 mg / dL or more
Your body needs cholesterol to construct your cell membranes and form many of your hormones. Supplementation or medication is sometimes needed to help you get your cholesterol levels to a healthy range. Celebrate Valentine's Day by doing something healthy for your heart. Get your cholesterol levels checked. Eat a heart-healthy diet rich in antioxidants and fiber. Exercise for 30 minutes a day 5 or 6 days each week. Lose extra belly fat and maintain a healthy weight. Add the necessary supplements to address vitamin and mineral deficiencies and to help lower your cholesterol. Let this month be the start of your new, natural way to have a healthy heart.