Friday, November 25, 2011
Tips on Improving Heart Health
The heart is the hardest working muscle in the human body and every day it pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood. It never stops and is always working. Such a diligent muscle needs to be in the best condition it can be, and with a few changes in lifestyle, you and your heart can be feeling much better. Heart disease is one of the major killers of men and women in America, but most of the causes of heart attacks are preventable and are largely due to poor lifestyle and diet choices.
A build up of cholesterol and fat in the arteries is the main cause of heart disease and failure. This build up is known as plaque. Once built up to a certain level, the plaque can break open, causing blood clots to form. This can cause a complete blockage in the artery and stop oxygen rich blood from reaching the heart, resulting in heart failure.
Because the major cause of heart disease is the build up of cholesterol and fat in the arteries, this should be an indication that heart health and diet are directly related. Research has shown that a diet rich in olive oil, Omega-3, garlic, whole grains and fresh vegetable will significantly reduce heart complications. In fact it has been proven that people who consume a Mediterranean diet are at far less risk from heart disease.
Over-processed foods are a major dietary concern. When food is over-processed it looses the majority of the essential nutrients. Processed grains found in white bread, and the sugars present in soda and the sodium in fast food greatly increase the risk of heart complications. Not only is unprocessed food better for your heart, it tastes better as well.
The heart is a muscle and like all muscles it needs to be exercised. When the heart is strengthened it will become more efficient at distributing the flow of blood around the body. The best exercise you can do for your heart is aerobic. This can include swimming, bicycling and walking.
If you are new to exercising, it is important that you take things gradually. The recommended daily amount of exercise is 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times per week. But do not feel that you need to do this amount straight away; the most important thing with exercise is consistency. Do what you can, but keep at it. Over time you will be able to go longer and do more.
If you smoke, your chances of heart disease are greatly increased. Smoking increases the chances of your arteries becoming clogged because the smoke damages the cells that line the blood vessels and heart. A year after you quit smoking, your chances of heart disease are cut in half and 15 years after stopping smoking, you are at the same risk as a non-smoker. If you want to quit, your heart health care provider can offer support and recommend programs that will improve your chances of success.