Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Your heart is an incredibly hard-working muscle. It pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood as it beats about 100,000 times per day, which is why keeping it healthy is so important.
Every February, health advocacy groups and organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA), the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team up for American Heart Month to remind us that heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States.
Unfortunately, heart disease is a national crisis in this country. "Heart disease takes the lives of far too many people in this country,” said Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "With more than two million heart attacks and strokes a year, and 800,000 deaths, just about all of us have been touched by someone who has had heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke.”
Heart disease is also very expensive. Cardiovascular disease and stroke hospitalizations have cost nearly $450 billion in health care expenses and lost productivity in 2010 alone.
A crucial way to fight back against the spreading disease is by raising awareness. In 2011, the HHS, in partnership with the CDC and other government agencies as well as private organizations, has launched a program called "Million Hearts,” a nationwide initiative aimed at preventing one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. Among its many goals, the program aims to "empower Americans to make healthy choices,” such as avoiding tobacco use and reducing the amount of sodium and trans fat they eat, and to "improve care for people who need treatment” by encouraging them to take steps to better control their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The good news is that there are only a few causes of heart disease that are out of our control, such as genetic predisposition, family history and aging. The rest is a matter of choice. Even small lifestyle improvements can make a significant difference. Weight control, good nutrition, regular exercise and stress reduction are all part of that. Each one of these is fully achievable for everyone with enough commitment and willingness to make the necessary efforts. Raising awareness is a good start, but it doesn’t end there.
One of the best ways to manage the stress in your life is to avoid taking on more responsibilities or social obligations. Set boundaries with family members or friends, be assertive when it comes to your workload and hours, and plan your schedule so you have the time you need to get things done.
Besides limiting trans-fats and refined sugars, it’s important for good heart health to make good choices in the grains you eat.
Heart-healthy grain products
· Whole-wheat flour
· Whole-grain bread
· High-fiber cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber a serving
· Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat
· Whole-grain pasta
· Ground flaxseed
Heart-unhealthy grain products
· White refined flour
· White bread
· Frozen waffles
· Corn bread
· Quick breads
· Granola bars
· Egg noodles
· Buttered popcorn
· High-fat snack crackers
A good addition to your healthy heart is omega-3 fatty acids.
Current research demonstrates that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent and reduce plaque formation inside arteries, lower harmful cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels, enhance the protective effects of cholesterol (HDL), decrease inflammation, and lessen the likelihood of forming a clot. Omega-3’s are superior to Omega-6 and Omega-9’s because they feed the anti-inflammatory cascade, where as the others can actually contribute to inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in wild Alaskan salmon, grass-fed beef, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, fish oil and cod liver oil.
One way to keep your Omegas in balance is to take one supplement a day. We recommend our Omega 3-6-9 Complete&™ (click here to view) . This is a comprehensive blend of Fish Oil, Borage Oil, and Organic Flax Seed Oil. This combination provides a unique balance of Omega-3 and Omega 6, plus Omega-9 and Vitamin E.
Another good way to help maintain a healthy heart is with our Healthy Heart Essentials&™. This easy to take supplement contains Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which provides many benefits.