By Don Vaughan
human heart is a remarkable machine, pumping blood through our bodies
at an astonishing 85,000 beats a day. But like all machines, the heart
must be well-maintained to function properly. Without care, heart
disease becomes a very real possibility.
According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 27.6 million
adults have been diagnosed with heart disease in the U.S. and nearly
610,000 people die from it every year, making it the No. 1 cause of
death in both men and women. However, there are several steps you can
take to maintain your heart health and reduce your risk of developing
heart disease, no matter your age.
Be aware of when you eat.
by the American Heart Association (AHA) strongly suggests that when we
eat matters just as much as what we eat (diet is one of seven factors that can make or break your heart health)
when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart. The reason? Our organs
have their own “clocks,” which might affect how our bodies process food
throughout the day, explains Marie-Pierre St-Onge, lead author of the
AHA scientific statement.
The AHA recommends you consume a good
amount of your daily calories in the morning. This makes sense because
several studies have found breakfast eaters tend to weigh less, have
better blood pressure, and have a lower risk of heart disease and other
illnesses than those who skip breakfast. For best results, pile your
breakfast plate high with fresh fruit, whole grain bread, low-fat
yogurt, and other healthful items, while keeping the bacon to a minimum.
Not only are nuts tasty, but they're also
rich in unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and other healthful
compounds, all of which work together to reduce your risk of coronary
heat disease, stroke, and other health issues.
Imperial College London and the Norwegian University of Science and
Technology conducted a meta-analysis of 29 existing studies from around
the world and found that as little as 20 grams of nuts a day - equal to a
handful - can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by nearly 30
percent, the risk of cardiovascular disease by 21 percent, and the risk
of all cancers by 15 percent. Tree nuts - including almonds, cashews,
hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and walnuts - are your best bet.
Peanuts, which actually are legumes, also are a good heart-healthy
choice. Because nuts are high in calories, make sure to consume them in
moderation and stick to the recommended serving size.
Add red cabbage microgreens to your diet.
are seedlings of edible plants such as basil and kale that, until
recently, primarily were used as garnish in fancy restaurants. We now
know microgreens are packed with essential nutrients such as vitamins C
and E and beta-carotene, and that red cabbage microgreens in particular
might be able to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave red cabbage
microgreens to mice that were fed a high-fat diet and saw a significant
reduction in circulating LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad”
cholesterol that can boost one's risk of heart attack and stroke. The
microgreens also reduced levels of dangerous triglycerides in the liver,
the researchers reported.
Watch your consumption of saturated fat.
love their saturated fat - the kind found in butter, red meat, lard,
and dairy fat - even though it can raise our risk of coronary heart
disease significantly. However, you can reduce that risk by as much as 8
percent simply by replacing 1 percent of saturated fat with healthier
fats, whole grains, and plant proteins, report researchers with the
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
senior author Dr. Qi Sun, assistant professor in the school's Department
of Nutrition, the findings of the study corroborate current USDA
guidelines regarding the consumption of saturated fat. Healthful
alternatives include vegetable cooking oils rich in polyunsaturated fats
and monounsaturated fats and low-fat dairy products.
Go back to school.
to researchers with the Sax Institute in Australia, there is a
significant link between lower education and a higher risk of heart
attack or stroke. Analysts followed 267,153 men and women over age 45
for five years and found the heart attack rate among those without a
college education was more than double that of people who had a
university degree. The risk was around two-thirds higher among subjects
with intermediate levels of education.
How can graduating
college help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke? By
influencing the type of job you have, where you live, what food choices
you make and other life decisions, reports Kerry Doyle, CEO of the Heart
Foundation New South Wales in Australia.
Need a little extra help tracking and understanding your hearth health? Then check out these 12 heart health apps.