By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Taking simple steps to improve your heart health is as easy as 1-2-3. Lifestyle and eating habits can have a huge long-term impact on our heart and longevity.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the US, Australia, New Zealand, UK and many other countries around the world. Often people still believe that it’s a hereditary disease and there is nothing they can do to reduce and avoid cardiovascular disease. Wrong – we can help ourselves!
Here are 12 easy steps to reduce your risk of heart disease and many other health concerns:
1.) Consume the right fats and oils. Eating foods that contain plenty of omega fatty acids – these include oily fish such as trout, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, nuts such as walnuts, almonds, brazils, macadamias and seeds such as flaxseeds, pumpkin, hemp, chia seeds, avocado, olives and coconut regularly.
Avoid the trans-fats and other hydrogenated fats that are heat treated and processed. Here is more on good fats and bad fats.
2.) Consume a rainbow everyday by eating more fruits and vegetables. To ensure an adequate intake of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants which help to protect the heart from oxidative damage, up your fruit and veggie intake. Fruits and vegetables REDUCE INFLAMMATION and help reduce free radical cellular damage and thus heart disease. Most chronic disease that is born of lifestyle originates from inflammation that has a systematic effect on all cells in the body. This is one of the reasons I LOVE JUICING because the huge portion of fruits and vegetables you can jam into a juice ensures a vast amount of heart protective nutrients can be easily assimilated.
3.) Go for lean meats and dairy foods. If you consume meats include lean cuts and avoid poultry skin. Pasture fed animals are also another important choice as the saturated fat content is less and it can also contain higher amounts of omega 3, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and vitamin E then the grain fed meats. Saturated fats in dairy can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease so choose the low fat varieties.
4.) Eat a diet rich in fiber. Soluble fiber is particularly important which is found in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains (oats and barley), legumes, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
5.) Limit sugar and salt in the diet. These mostly come from processed foods such as preserved meats, sauces, cakes, sweets, lollies, chocolates, soft drinks, fast food, pre-made meals, desserts, ice cream and other junk foods. Using herbs and spices in savory dishes and the herb stevia in sweet dishes can be a healthy way to increase flavor.
6.) Limit alcohol. It is suggested for women to consume no more than 1 standard drink per day and men to consume no more than 2 standard drinks per day. It also important to have alcohol free nights and weeks regularly if you choose to drink alcohol.
7.) Avoid smoking. Smoking increases heart disease significantly, this includes passive smoking.
8.) Avoid overeating. It is very important to be aware of your serving size and portion control. Often people eat too much food and therefore too many calories when you are eating a rich diet. The excellent benefit of eating lots of fruits and vegetables are they are low in calories and high in nutrients.
9.) Exercise regularly. Exercising is vital for a long and healthy life. Aim to do 30minutes of cardio or any type of exercise that gets the heart pumping daily. Here is more on fitness facts and your Reboot.
10.) Maintain a healthy body weight. Using waist measurements and BMI can be a great indicator for heart health. Here is a chart for measurements and BMI indicators for disease risk.
11.) Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Here is more on Blood pressure and Cholesterol.
12.) Stress less. Stress can be an ongoing contributor to heart disease and can often be the trigger for a heart attack. Maintaining supportive relationships, exercise, meditation and breathing can help reduce the toxic effects on stress on the heart.
By including these essential heart healthy tips you can enjoy a heart healthy life!