Heart Health 2018: Guide to a Healthy Heart
Be Heart Smart
You’re never too young (or too old!) to look after your heart!
Studies show that no matter your age, race, or sex, being heart smart can help you live a long, healthy life. So, when you think about heart health, isn’t it smart to think not only about the years in your life, but the life in your years?
In this online Heart Health Guide, we’ll walk you through a four-step process to help you achieve and maintain great heart health.
Get to know all about cholesterol and triglycerides, and how blood pressure works.
Find out how your daily diet affects your heart, and discover some key ways to support heart health through superfoods.
Learn which natural products are tried and tested for optimal cardiovascular support.
Learn Your Lipids – Understanding Fats
We can’t talk about heart health without first talking about lipids (fats). Dietary fats (that is, the fats we get from our food) are an important source of energy and nutrients and are essential for good health. The problem, though, is that not all fats are the same: Some support heart health, while others can be harmful. Being heart smart means learning your lipids!
What are trans fats?
Cutting out trans fats is one of the best things you can do for heart health. Trans fatty acids (trans fats) occur naturally in some meat and dairy products, but most dietary trans fats are found in baked goods, snacks, fried foods, and spreads that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Why are trans fats so bad? Well, they not only raise LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, they also lower HDL cholesterol, which can dramatically increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
What are saturated fats?
Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and are found predominantly in animal-derived foods, although some nuts also contain saturated fats. These fats are so called because their carbon chains are saturated with hydrogen atoms, which makes them less flexible than unsaturated fats. A diet high in saturated fats can increase levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raising the risk of heart disease and stroke.
What are unsaturated fats?
Unsaturated fats take the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs and PUFAs), depending on how many hydrogen atoms there are in each carbon chain. PUFAs and MUFAs tend to be liquid at room temperature, are more flexible than saturated fats and trans fats, and are vital for flexible, functional cell membranes.
Now that you have a better understanding of which types of fats to eat (and which to avoid) let’s look even deeper, at three other key factors in heart health: triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are made up of three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule. They are the most common type of fat in the body and are created to store excess energy when we consume more calories than we need.
Small amounts of triglycerides are necessary for good health, but high triglyceride levels can increase LDL cholesterol, arterial plaque formation, and your risk of heart disease. Dietary trans fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol, and saturated fats all increase triglyceride levels. Getting good sleep, managing stress effectively, and exercising regularly all help to keep triglycerides in check.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body uses as a base for making hormones, vitamin D, and cell membranes. While some cholesterol is essential for good health, too much can damage and block arteries and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. In their pure state, cholesterol and triglycerides cannot mix with blood, so the body pairs them with proteins to form lipoproteins that can circulate in the blood to where they are needed.
Low-density and very-low-density lipoproteins (LDL and VLDL) are the “bad” kind of cholesterol as they can build up in the arteries, oxidize, and cause damage and blockages. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps remove LDL and VLDL from circulation and keep arteries clear.
How does blood pressure work?
Blood pressure is a measure of the circulatory pressure felt in the walls of blood vessels as the heart pumps and relaxes. It is usually given as one number over another (systolic over diastolic) to reflect both the highest and lowest pressure during a heartbeat. The circulatory system moves blood around our bodies to provide oxygen, energy, and nutrients to cells and to remove metabolic waste products and toxins. As the heart pumps blood around the body, healthy blood vessels respond to changes in blood volume, posture, and activity to maintain the steady pressure and flow in this blood “stream”. When arteries, veins, and smaller blood vessels stiffen, narrow, or become blocked, it is harder for them to respond to changing needs. Blood pressure may rise and remain elevated, which can then further damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Do you know how to spot the signs of a heart attack? Did you know that these can be different for men and women? Sudden chest pain is a common symptom of a heart attack in men, while women may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and/or pain in their jaw or back.
Food to the Rescue
Great news! One of the easiest paths to better health is right in front of you on your dinner plate. By making healthy dietary choices, you can unlock a dazzling array of health benefits, from weight and cholesterol management to improved energy, and beyond. Here are some top tips for dietary decisions! The food you eat is the most important factor in achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Studies suggest that a heart-healthy waistline measures 35 inches or less for women, and 40 inches or less for men. An apple a day may be good for your health, but when it comes to body shape, you want to aim more for a pear shape than an apple shape as central fat (belly fat) is strongly associated with poor heart health.
Here Are Some Top Tips for Heart Healthy Dietary Decisions
Coldwater fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and herring are high in omega-3 PUFAs.
Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are great for their soluble fibre and phytonutrients.
Papaya and cantaloupes for their magnesium, fibre, potassium and powerful beta-carotene.
Oatmeal is a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre and provides protein, vitamins, and minerals. Choose unsweetened oatmeal to avoid added sugar, and watch out for sodium!
Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts provide healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that support heart health. Choose unsalted nuts though!
Black beans and kidney beans are a great source of lean protein, fibre, and a variety of minerals and vitamins, including B vitamins.
Sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidant carotenoids, fibre, and other vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients – and they’re delicious!
Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, phytoestrogens, and fibre which are good for heart health.
Tomatoes contain antioxidants and also include lycopene, vitamin C, and both alpha- and beta-carotene.
Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, but make sure to choose chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa to avoid too much sugar.
To complement the healthy diet and lifestyle choices you’re already making, you may be curious about heart-healthy supplements. Some supplements help support the health of our arteries and blood vessels by providing antioxidant nutrients that quench free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. Other supplements support lipid management and weight management, including keeping cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check. Webber Naturals is passionate about creating vitamins, minerals, and herbal formulas of unmatched quality. We guarantee it.
Our supplements aren’t just natural, they set industry standards for purity and potency. Why? Because, the people working at Webber Naturals are dedicated to ensuring their own health and the health of their families. Just like you.
With Crystal Clean from the Sea, Webber Naturals blends the freshest, highest quality omega-3 with absolutely delicious, natural, non-GMO flavours. Naturally sweetened with monk fruit, each teaspoon provides 750 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 500 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), offering convenient support for cardiovascular and cognitive health in children and adults.
Just keep moving! Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do for your heart, and the great thing is that exercise is free! There’s no need to train for an ultramarathon (unless you want to), nor to spend your next paycheck on an expensive home gym. In fact, it’s much more sustainable to incorporate physical activity into your day in such a way that exercise feels almost effortless, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, biking to work, taking a walk with friends instead of going for dinner, and playing in the park with the kids or your dog instead of seeing a movie.
To be heart smart, aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. That might mean a 30-minute walk five days a week, three 50-minute bike rides, or any combination of activities you enjoy and that work up a bit of a sweat. The key thing is to get moving and keep moving, whatever your age and current fitness level!
First Step: Warm Up
There’s nothing quite so demotivating to a new fitness regimen as getting an injury just as you’re getting started. Minimize your risk by always warming up before you exercise. Our short warm-up routine is perfect for getting your engine running.
The body-weight workout
Remember how we said exercise can be free? It’s easy to forget when there’s so much attention on pumping iron, health clubs, and expensive workout gadgets. Here’s a little secret, though: For a great whole-body workout you don’t need anything but your body.
Check out these eight, great body-weight moves to help overall strength and fitness. Start slowly and work up to being able to do this entire routine four times. Warning: Always consult your physician before undergoing a new exercise or workout routine.