Preventing heart disease is on the mind of many medical professionals. It’s no secret that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world. More than 2,200 people die of cardiovascular disease every day in the U.S. Although some people think heart disease is more prevalent amongst men, heart disease is the number one killer of women.
Luckily, we can help prevent it. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine repeated information most people already know: heart disease deaths can be avoided by steering clear of risk factors like smoking and high alcohol consumption.
However, there is a lot of cutting edge research that supports simple lifestyle changes,. Adding magnesium, turmeric, and molecular hydrogen to your daily routine, can mitigate these risk factors and help in preventing heart disease.
Major Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Research suggests that coronary heart disease begins with damage to the lining and inner layers of the coronary (heart) arteries. Several lifestyle choices and medical conditions contribute to this damage, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Physical inactivity
- Poor diet
- Excessive alcohol use
- Being overweight/obesity
All of these choices and conditions contribute to heart disease, but high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are the most common risk factors. Unfortunately, almost half of Americans (47 percent) suffer from at least one of these three issues.
Avoiding heart disease is easier than you think, no matter how daunting the statistics make it seem. Adopting age-old lifestyle guidelines — healthy diet, not smoking, daily exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and normal body weight maintenance — can cut your chances of having a heart attack by 92 percent, according to a Swedish study of more than 24,000 women. Here are our 12 tips to keep your ticker healthy.
12 Natural Ways of Preventing Heart Disease
1. Consume More Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Evidence suggests that consuming higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in fish, fish oil, and krill oil reduces risk factors associated with heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the risk of sudden death by heart attack. Why? The likely answer is that omega-3s can reduce inflammation and triglyceride (fats in the blood) levels, as well as slow the development of plaque and blood clots in the arteries, helping in preventing heart disease. Longtime dietician, Kim Melton, recommends eating cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel for a healthy heart. Other sources of omega-3s include “flax seed, almonds, walnuts, and cashews,” Melton says.
2. Eat More Vegetables
Dr. Steven Gundry, cardiac surgeon and author of The Diet Evolution, explains that some of the world’s healthiest societies eat a diet of mostly vegetables and tiny amounts of naturally-grown fruits (like pomegranates). People who want to stay heart-healthy “should enjoy a diet that’s heavy on veggies and good fats,” Gundry says. Aim to make vegetables 50 percent of your meals. Try adding cruciferous veggies like kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or cabbage to your plate. They are rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals that support healthy heart function and can help with preventing heart disease.
3. Avoid High-Lectin Foods
If your diet consists of foods high in lectin, like grains and beans, consider switching it up. This plant protein has been tied to the weakening of blood vessels, an early mark of heart disease. Gundry says that it can even wreak havoc on your immune system and digestive patterns. He suggests avoiding lectin-filled foods like oatmeal, non-pressure cooked beans, chia seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, peanuts and cashews, and nightshades, like tomatoes, when possible. However, you don’t have to cut them out completely. The trick is to reduce lectin in legumes, grains, and nuts through soaking, sprouting, and cooking for preventing heart disease. In fact, most lectins can be inactivated by pre-soaking foods and bringing them to a boil. You can reduce about 50 percent of lectins in nuts by steaming them alongside your broccoli. Also, make sure that you are buying pre-soaked and germinated nuts and seeds, or soak them yourself. Add some clean water and 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to nuts or grains, and let them sit out for 12 hours.
4. Take Advantage Of Herbs And Spices
Several herbs and spices have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular protective properties that can help in preventing heart disease. For instance, turmeric protects blood vessels from accruing plaque by hindering the body’s oxidation of cholesterol and reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol. Although cooking with turmeric is helpful, try taking it in supplement form. Supplements preserve turmeric’s fat-soluble active components that allow it to cut across the gut lining and blood-brain barrier and target specific areas. Lemongrass also stops LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and turning into atherosclerotic plaque that can cause heart attacks. Other herbs and spices that promote heart health include cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, capsaicin, and cilantro. These can also be used in food or taken in supplement form. However, it’s always helpful to consider supplements if your taste buds don’t agree with a certain herb or spice!
5. Consider These Vitamins And Natural Supplements
Many vitamins and supplements can be beneficial for your heart health, including magnesium and vitamin B-6. Magnesium has been proven to hold protective heart properties. Low magnesium levels are associated with oxidative stress, inflammation, and platelet aggregation, which can contribute to heart disease. Due to depleted soil and poor diet, having a magnesium deficiency is common. A small but growing body of research suggests that magnesium is absorbed much more effectively through the skin than via supplement, so consider a transdermal spray to increase your magnesium levels.
Research shows that vitamin B-6 also protects the heart by shielding the blood vessel walls from damage and lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that helps promote blood clots.
Other supplements to try are grape seed extract, pine bark extract, resveratrol, vitamin C and D, and fish oil. Remember, however, that supplements are meant to supplement your diet, not replace a certain food. For instance, kale is a better source of complex nutrition than a magnesium supplement and salmon is a better source of omega-3s than a fish oil supplement.
6. Take Care Of Your Teeth
Although it may seem strange, treating your teeth right can help keep your ticker healthy. Periodontist Dr. Eugene Gamble explains that several studies reveal an association between gum disease and heart disease. Many scientists believe that the inflammation caused by gum disease may be responsible for this association. Regardless of the cause, the preventive advice is the same: “Ensure that you maintain good oral health by regularly brushing your teeth,” Gamble says. There are other natural oral hygiene tips you should keep in mind, such as oil pulling, probiotics, and rinsing with aloe vera.
7. Get Up And Get Moving
Long sitting hours that accompany millions of jobs across the world are posing a threat to our heart health. Julee Kim, founder of the active footrest Officiser, explains that when we sit, “the calves (the second heart of the body) are immobile, so it is left to the heart to circulate all the blood on its own, as opposed to the calves pushing deoxygenated blood back up to the heart and lungs.” To fight this, try getting two or more hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (like walking) every week. Adopting a sedentary lifestyle could lead to an increased risk of death by cardiovascular disease, so find a weekly routine that works for you.
Your arteries could be affected by the elasticity of your muscles, so stretching 10 to 15 minutes per day may keep your arteries more flexible. A recent study found that middle-aged men who practiced four weeks of static stretching saw a reduction in arterial stiffness. Try adding some basic stretching to your morning routine.
9. Start Incorporating Molecular Hydrogen
Molecular hydrogen is an odorless, tasteless, flammable gas that works by reducing oxidative stress, a major cause of cardiovascular disease. A study in Medical Gas Research concluded that molecular hydrogen also has anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties that help lessen damage caused by inflammation, radiation, and ischemia. To easily incorporate molecular hydrogen into your preventing heart disease routine, start taking an antioxidant-rich supplement like Hydra Molecular Hydrogen.
10. Eliminate Stress
Stress is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. This is likely because, in stressful situations, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that can temporarily speed up your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. Additionally, constant stress often leads to other risk factors like overindulging in unhealthy foods or alcohol. Christina Jordan, master nutritionist and former stressed-out work-a-holic, recommends taking 10-20 minutes of personal time each day to relax, meditate, or go for a walk to alleviate stress. “Walking is one of the best activities someone can do to control stress because it increases blood flow to the body and brain, which can drastically reduce stress levels and lower stress-induced cravings,” Jordan says.
11. Assess Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking less, or no alcohol can help with preventing heart disease. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to problems such as high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmias, and obesity. The AHA recommends having no more than one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. “If you must drink alcohol, skip the beer, and go for polyphenol-rich red wine instead,” Gundry says. Research suggests that having a few ounces of red wine every day can reduce your risk of a heart attack.
12. Remember That Your Diet Is Key To Preventing Heart Disease
Your diet is crucial to your heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises people to eat foods high in fiber and low in trans fat and sodium. The AHA also recommends limiting processed sugar intake and red meat. Although you’ve probably been advised to stay away from fats, new research points to saturated fats and other healthy fats (like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) as important to overall good health. For instance, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that there’s not enough evidence to conclude saturated fats increase heart disease, but replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat could reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s all about where you get your fats. The best fats come from vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fish.
If you’re looking for a specific diet to follow, try the Mediterranean diet and eat like a Greek. A trial of more than 700 people with a high risk of heart attacks found that this diet, supplemented with extra- virgin olive oil or nuts, reduced the rate of major cardiovascular events.
Make Your Heart Health A Priority
Making your heart health a priority doesn’t have to be hard. Gradually begin to incorporate one or two of these tips in your daily routine. Don’t be the statistic. Take responsibility for your heart health today.
Meredith Minor is a freelance writer, dance teacher, avid reader and wife from Nashville, TN.
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