In recognition of American Heart Month, we’re focusing on cardiovascular health in Part 3 of our 4-Part series.
Heart health is both a national and global concern. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. 50% of American adults are impacted by heart disease and 1/3 of adults worldwide have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the most common cause of heart disease-related deaths.
You can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by following basic healthy living guidelines:
- Don’t smoke
- Get regular exercise
- Get quality sleep
- Maintain healthy weight
- Reduce stress
- Eat nutritious diet
Eating a healthy diet plays an important role in improving heart health.
1. Learn the DASH Diet Eating Plan
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is an eating strategy that was created from research funded by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) . The DASH diet emphasizes eating the right portion sizes and choosing a variety of foods and nutrients.
DASH Eating Plan
- Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Include fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
Stephen Juraschek, M.D., at Harvard Medical School, was one of the DASH study’s first authors. He reported, “Our results add to the evidence that dietary interventions can be as effective as – or more effective than – antihypertensive drugs in those at highest risk for high blood pressure, and should be a routine first-line treatment option for such individuals.”
2. Reduce Sodium
The DASH diet recommends reducing sodium and eating a variety of foods rich in nutrients that lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
To decrease sodium in your diet, make sure to:
- Read Labels: Choose low-sodium options and alternatives
- Reduce Processed Foods: Most sodium is added during processing. Natural foods such as fruits and vegetables rarely contain high levels of sodium.
- Flavor with Herbs and Spices: Instead of using salt and butter, season with garlic, basil, paprika, coconut aminos, etc.
By following the DASH diet, you may be able to reduce your blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks. Over time, the top number of your blood pressure (systolic blood pressure) could drop by eight to 14 points.
3. Boost Energy Naturally
Caffeine can play a role in increasing risk of heart disease by increasing heart rate, influence sleep cycles and overstimulating the nervous system. Caffeine can remain in your bloodstream for 6–8 hours. To check if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.
If you need a morning or mid-afternoon energy boost, try going for a quick jog or walk. Getting away from your desk and enjoying a change of scenery can stimulate your brain and increase focus naturally.
If you need instant alertness, avoid energy drinks and sugar-filled coffee beverages. Try more natural sources of caffeine such as yerba maté, guarana berries, guayusa or the yaupon holly.
4. Track Diet Daily
Different foods can affect each individual differently based on a variety of factors including genetics and unique biochemistry. If you notice your blood pressure rising or heart rate increasing after eating a certain food, make sure to take note. The same goes for a food that reduces blood pressure and helps you feel more calm and relaxed.
Try keeping a record of your food choices for 30 days. Track your meal portions and track the amount of sodium or caffeine included in your snacks. By understanding your dietary habits, you may discover more effective ways to shop for groceries. Data can help you develop eating patterns tailored to your unique lifestyle.
DASH Diet Example Menu
- 1 whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 medium orange
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- Decaffeinated coffee
- Spinach salad made with:
- 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
- 1 sliced pear
- 1/2 cup canned mandarin orange sections
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette
- 12 reduced-sodium wheat crackers
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- Herb-crusted baked cod, 3 ounces cooked (about 4 ounces raw)
- 1/2 cup brown rice pilaf with vegetables
- 1/2 cup fresh green beans, steamed
- 1 small sourdough roll
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup fresh berries with chopped mint
- Herbal iced tea
- 1 cup fat-free, low-calorie yogurt
- 4 vanilla wafers
5. Try Supplements to Support Heart Health
If you’re struggling to absorb nutrients or would like additional support in preventing heart disease, add supplements to your DASH diet plan.
Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient produced in nearly every human cell. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that helps convert food into energy and protects cells against free radical damage. According to the Cleveland Heart Lab, researchers report that CoQ10 may have significant benefits for people with cardiovascular disease (CVD), from reducing risk for repeat heart attacks and improving outcomes in patients with heart failure to lowering blood pressure and helping combat side effects of cholesterol-lowering statins.
NBHDK7 is a combination of Vitamin D and Vitamin K. Vitamin D3 improves cardiovascular health by supporting immune function, reducing inflammation and balancing blood sugar. It has recently been linked to blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity which affects weight loss.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found abundantly in fish oil, can reduce cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure. Omega-3s also lower triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in blood and are stored as body fat. Lowering triglycerides prevents fatty build-up in the artery walls, decreasing risk of heart attack and stroke.
Contact Natural Bio Health Today
Our team is dedicated to helping you understand the numerous factors that may be preventing optimal health. Learn more about taking control of your health. Join the wellness journey to achieve optimal health, fight disease and boost immune health to combat viruses. Visit naturalbiohealth.com.
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