Heart Healthy Foods for the Spring

Heart Healthy Foods for the Spring With the warmer weather, farmers markets and grocery aisles provide more fresh produce and better opportunities to eat fresh foods that are heart-healthy choices. With the influx of barbecue and heavy desserts comes opportunities to acquire fresh fruits and vegetables, so it’s a time to make heart-healthy choices for yourself as the warm months roll in. Nuts Snacking on nuts like almonds, peanuts, and seeds like pumpkin or sunflower seeds can help reduce inflammation, which is one of the markers for heart disease. They also help reduce the risk of blood clots and can help improve the health of the lining of the arteries. Packed with fiber, vitamin E, and protein, nuts are an excellent low-fat snack. Add nuts to dishes to add crunch and flavor, as well as making things like salads more filling and satisfying. Try a handful of walnuts in a crunchy apple salad for a sweet treat that’s not too heavy on sugar. Barley, Oats and Grains Fiber is your heart’s best friend, helping to clean cholesterol from the body’s storage systems and keeping your digestive health on track. Oats and other whole grains provide a slow-burning source of energy and carbohydrates. Unlike highly-processed foods and simple sugars, they don’t create a spike in your blood sugar, which can be hard on your heart. Instead, oats and other whole grains provide a slow, steady release of energy, keeping you feeling full longer and offering your body a longer-lasting source of energy. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables With the onset of spring comes the growing season, and a significant increase in...

Foods That Reduce Cardiovascular Risk | Balanced Diet

You often read that you can support your heart health with a healthy diet, but what constitutes a healthy diet? How do you know what foods to eat and which to avoid? In general, whole foods and natural, unprocessed foods are the best choices. It’s important, however, to enjoy a balanced diet. Too much fruit, for example, can be almost as bad as eating a steady diet of processed, sugary foods. This list should give you a good place to start building the foundations of a healthy diet. Skip the Mayo You already know that mayonnaise is full of fat and oil and that the cholesterol it contains is hard on your heart. Did you know there’s a healthier alternative? Instead of slathering a sandwich with mayo, consider layering it with thinly-sliced pieces of ripe avocado. The creamy texture and flavor make a satisfying substitute, and avocado is considered a “super food,” packed with good cholesterol that’s heart-healthy. A better choice: Skip the bread and prepare a chef’s salad using lean meats like grilled chicken breast, chunks of avocado, romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other crisp, tasty vegetables for a filling meal. Whole Grains Whole grains help to cleanse the cholesterol from the body. Brown rice, oatmeal, and other whole grains are excellent sources of energy. They take longer to digest than processed foods, making them more filling and satisfying. Consider layering lean meats like fish, pork, and chicken with brown rice and beans. The fiber is filling and provides longer-lasting energy than the quick buzz from simple carbohydrates. Olive Oil Olive oil has long been known to...

Clogged Arteries – What Can You do to Avoid Them

The arteries are the freeways of the body, carrying supplies like nutrients and oxygen to your cells. When they are blocked by plaque, the blood flow is restricted, preventing your body from getting the nutrients and oxygen it needs. Plaque that causes clogged arteries is extremely difficult to remove, so it’s best to prevent its build up in the first place. How does Plaque Happen? When cholesterol and other materials stick to the walls of veins and arteries, it can begin to restrict the blood flow. The body, sensing a problem, sends out white blood cells to attack the blockages, but this can cause inflammation, leading to even more blockage. If a blockage happens to break free, it can go careening through the blood vessels until it hits a too-narrow space and gets stuck, causing a heart attack. Healthy lifestyle choices can reduce clogged arteries and keep your circulatory system working properly. Healthy Eating Reducing cholesterol in your diet is just the beginning. Your diet should be rich in fiber and in the vitamins your heart needs to function effectively. The best way to eat healthy is to remember to include as much color as possible on your plate. Brightly colored, fresh vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins and minerals, while dull, bland processed foods tend to be full of fat and salt. Restrict alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day, and if you smoke, consider enrolling in a cessation program. Exercise By maintaining a healthy weight and fitness level, you can reduce the strain on your heart and help it function more effectively. Aim...

Heart Disease Prevention: The Facts

Changes To Make For Heart Disease Prevention There are plenty of myths surrounding heart health, including fad diets, fitness routines, and “miracle” cures that are marketed as a magic bullet against heart problems. The truth is, heart disease prevention takes diligence and a thoughtful approach to diet and exercise, but some basic steps can help protect your heart health for the long term. Smoking Cessation Smokers have some of the highest instances of heart problems and heart attack of any population. The carbon monoxide in smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood, forcing the heart to work harder to deliver enough oxygen to your body. Tobacco contains chemicals that can cause plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to heart attack. Smoking cessation can reduce your chances of heart problems significantly. Exercise Though many adults don’t have time in their schedules or the motivation to take on a strenuous exercise program, even a moderate increase in exercise can have an impact on your heart health. At least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, like walking at a brisk pace, is a great support for your heart. When combined with diet, increased exercise not only increases heart health, it helps raise levels of serotonin, the feel-good chemical, as well, reducing anxiety, depression and moodiness. Diet The word “diet” has taken on a negative connotation for many. It is not necessary to embrace a lifestyle of starvation and salads to increase your heart health. Aim to reduce your consumption of red meats and full-fat dairy products, while introducing more vegetables, fruits, and healthy carbs like beans. Consider replacing one...

Important Vitals You Should Know

Vitals Are Key The symptoms of heart problems can be subtle. Knowing what’s average for your body gives you the knowledge you need in case of an emergency. If you know that your normal resting heart rate is around 65, you’ll know that there might be something wrong if it jumps to 80. Checking your own vitals takes just minutes, and may give you an early warning of any potential problems, especially with your heart. Resting Heart Rate To get an accurate picture of your resting heart rate, take your pulse several times over the course of a week. It’s best to take your pulse at the same times each day. Be sure to wait at least two hours after strenuous activity, consuming caffeine, or a stressful event to allow your heart rate to return fully to normal. Sit in a quiet space for several minutes to be sure your heart rate is in its resting state. Place your fingers against the side of your neck or your wrist to locate your pulse. Count the heartbeats for 15 seconds, and multiply that number by four. That will be your resting heart rate. Blood Pressure While blood pressure may not be considered vital, it’s a measurement that should be taken regularly to monitor your overall heart health. Blood pressure monitors are available from your local department or medical supply store quite inexpensively. Like resting heart rate, blood pressure should be taken at the same time each day, at a time when you can be at rest. Follow the instructions on the blood pressure monitor to take an accurate reading. Pay...