Later this month, I’ll be giving a talk at a local company about stress management and heart health. While researching for this topic, I was surprised to learn that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, more than all forms on cancer combined! To help prevent yourself from becoming another victim of heart disease, here are some tips to make sure you are keeping your heart as healthy as possible.
Heart Healthy Diet Tips
One of the easiest ways to help prevent heart disease is through our diet. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol, two of the biggest risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease, are closely tied to what we eat.
First, we want to increase our intake of fruits and vegetables. Not only are fruits and veggies full of vitamins and minerals, but by adding more into our diet, we are less likely to overeat high fat foods, such as meats, cheeses and snack foods. Ideally, you should eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, instead of the canned versions. Canned foods are high in sodium, which can elevate blood pressure. You also should not fry, bread or cover vegetables in creamy sauces. When we do this, we are taking a healthy food, and covering it in something high in fat, which is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish.
We also want to increase our fiber intake by eating more whole grains. Increased fiber in the diet has been proven to decrease blood pressure. Try to replace white bread with whole wheat or whole grain bread, and white rice with brown rice. Steel cut oatmeal, not the pre-packaged variety, is another great addition to add fiber to your diet. If you are looking to try a new grain, try quinoa. It is a great replacement for rice, tastes great and is high in protein.
Finally, remember that not all fats are bad, by increasing our good fats, and limiting bad fats, we can lower our cholesterol. Examples of good fats include olive oil, nuts and avocados. Low fat proteins include eggs, skinless poultry, lean ground meats (90% meat/10% fat or lower fat percentage) and cold water fish, like salmon.
Supplements That Improve Heart Health
Although a healthy diet is extremely important for a healthy heart, the addition of some supplements can help. CoQ10 is an enzyme that is naturally produced by the body. One of the many benefits of CoQ10 is that it helps regulate our blood pressure, so by adding CoQ10 to a healthy diet, we can help lower blood pressure.
One of the most commonly prescribed drugs for high cholesterol are statins, like Lipitor. One side effect of statins is they decrease the amount of CoQ10 in our bodies. So although statins help lower cholesterol, they can have a negative effect on blood pressure. If you currently take a statin, consult with your doctor about taking CoQ10 to help balance side effects.
Fish oil has been proven to help not only lower blood pressure, but also decrease triglycerides, a form of cholesterol. However, not all fish oil is created equally. The most beneficial forms of fish oil are high in the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. So, before buying any fish oil supplements, make sure that they have high concentrations of both EPA and DHA, otherwise you may be wasting your money.
I hope this blog has helped give you some ideas on how to change your diet and add supplements that can improve heart health. Next month, my blog will discuss risk factors that can lead to heart disease and how chiropractic care can help your heart.