The month of February deals in all matters of the heart; yes, of course, Valentine’s day, but more importantly, Heart Health Awareness month. There is an old and very wise adage that says “let food be thy medicine” and with heart disease killing more women in a year than cancer, food most certainly has the power to keep our hearts well.
Today’s guest writer will highlight foods for a health heart and how you can get more into your life.
There is No Magical Food for Heart Health
The heart, a muscle only the size of your palm, plays such a key role to living a long, healthy and fulfilling life. It keeps our body running by pumping oxygen-rich blood through our arteries and veins.
We are always hearing about foods that assist and/or harm the heart, but not all studies are honest or accurate. It is important to understand how certain foods work in our favor and which foods those actually are to guide us to making healthy food choices for our hearts. When we educate ourselves it makes it a little easier to decipher foods for a healthy heart, and it serves as a reminder why it is so important to consume these foods on a regular basis.
Why Certain Foods Are “Bad”
“Bad for you” food makes the heart work harder to do its job. These evil, sometimes deceitfully delicious, foods go about this by clogging the arteries with cholesterol. Clogged arteries make the heart need to work harder to push the amount of blood your body needs through a thinner passage way.
To think about it in my simple terms, we can compare our arteries to a constantly busy one way tunnel. Traffic will flow more readily through a tunnel with two lanes. If we block off half of the tunnel, traffic will have to flow through only one lane. The drivers can do one of two things, take longer time to go through the tunnel or they will all have to go twice the speed to get everyone through in the same amount of time.
Your heart doesn’t have the luxury of waiting that the drivers do, so the heart ends up working twice as hard to deliver the oxygenated blood your body needs to function. Instead of being able to wait for the traffic to go through the clogged arties, it has to muscle the blood through all of your body. Making your heart work harder is what leads to most heart conditions.
Why Certain Foods are “Good”
The foods that are good for you are on your heart’s side. While these foods cannot give your heart a much deserved vacation or other such miracles, they can make the heart’s job a little easier. Foods that help your heart out generally fall under two, sometimes overlapping, categories: healthy fats or phytonutrient-rich foods.
In a culture that pushes low-fat foods and low-fat diets as healthy alternative, healthy fats may seem like an oxy-moron to some. Putting fats in the role of a super villain is a terrible misconception. By incorporating healthy fats into your diet more frequently you give your body nutrients it needs anyways. This will help you reduce the amount of unhealthy fat you consume. In addition, fat is the source that give us our body energy to be active, and a life filled with physical activity is a cardinal priority to maintaining a healthy heart.
That being said, not all fats are created equal. Monosounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, healthy fats, help us absorb nutrients and are crucial for cellular function. Saturated and trans fats are the unhealthy ones that we should really try to avoid at all costs.
On to our heart’s best friend, phytonutrient-rich foods. These are organic nutrients that plants create to fend of disease and famine from themselves. It turns out that these nutrients are also very good at fighting off diseases of all sorts, especially heart disease, for humans.
Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas are all great sources of phtyonutrients. It is important to maintain a balanced diet of all of these, because they all have different phytonutrients that help the heart in different ways.
Phtyonutrients help repair and replace damaged cells to keep your body strong. They also are filled with antioxidant, have anti-inflammatory properties, protect the heart and lower cholesterol. With consistent consumption in the long-term these foods really do make a difference for our heart.
Tips and Tricks to Incorporate Good Foods into Your Diet
The complexities and level of difficulty of keeping a heart-healthy diet should not be under-estimated. For guidance you can ask your general practitioner for some advice, but researching what is healthy or not independently can be useful. Be wary of trends and studies that are promoting consuming something because they have an agenda. For example, the recent acai berry ads come to mind that promote the berry as a miracle worker despite the fact the quantities it is marketed in aren’t actually all that useful for a healthy diet. Then again, the acai berry does contain the healthy monosounsaturated fats, and the berry can be healthy if incorporated into your diet. Here are some general tips that can help you apply eating healthy foods on a consistent and sustainable basis.
1) Maintain a variety of heart healthy foods, so that you don’t get bored with a routine.
2) Eat 7 colors a day to promote a variety of food in your diet.
3) Replace protein intake with peanuts or legumes.
4) Eat tuna or salmon once a week.
5) Avoid dining out and carry out.
6) Eat fruits and vegetables every day. No exceptions!
Why Heart Health is especially Important For Women
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of women in the United States. Over 43 million women are affected by heart disease in the U.S. Of every three women in the United States that die annually, 1 is from heart disease.
By eating healthy you help to prevent and treat heart disease. Do not forget to incorporate regular exercise. We women are smart. Together we can help alter the statistics of unhealthy hearts!
Article is written By Everest NutritionKrillOil. You can learn more about the benefits here.