13 Ways To Support Your Heart (only unlucky if you don’t read this)

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Unlucky 13?  Nope, the folks that ignore this list are the unlucky ones.  Even if you just pick one or two of these to focus on right now, your heart will thank you.

 

Dark Chocolate

Flavanols in cocoa have been shown to decrease blood pressure, make our blood platelets less sticky, and increase blood flow to the heart and brain.  (enjoy some real dark chocolate… no, not the stuff in your kids Halloween bag)

 

Magnesium

A major study that looked at 7,664 people over 10.5 years found that those with the lowest levels of urinary magnesium were 70% more like to die from heart disease.  Good food sources include: spinich, kale, kelp, almonds, brown rice, flaxseeds, beens, avocado, walnuts, salmon, yogurt, bananas, and dark chocolate.  (get at least 400mg per day)

 

Stress

The mind-body connection is not just some treehugger talk.  Stress has very real effects on our body and body chemistry.  Stress can increase cortisol levels, raise blood pressure, disrupt sleep, and increase insulin resistance.  Did you know that the risk of having a heart attack increases 21 fold a day later after you lose someone significant?   (ideas to de-stress: exercise, enjoy your pets, volunteer, meditate, maintain healthy relationships, EFT)

 

Exercise I know you already know this one, but it’s too important to leave out.  Exercise strengthens your heart, allows it to work more efficiently, reduces cortisol levels, reduces body fat, reduces stress, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and helps us sleep. (30 minutes of activity most days, but any increase is great)

 

Know Your Numbers

You should be aware of your numbers and start to understand what they mean.  These include: HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight, BMI, and vitamin D.  Cholesterol is not the be-all, end-all risk factor once thought, but you should know where you’re at and talk to your doctor about them.

 

CoQ10

CoQ10 is required by every cell in the body to make energy via the Krebs Cycle (the most efficient way we make energy)… this includes the heart.  It’s also a very powerful antioxidant.  The oxidized form of CoQ10 is found in foods like nuts, vegetables and fruits, but it’s most abundant in meats.  We have 3 issues going on:

1. Not enough good foods are being consumed

2. As we age, our bodies have an increasingly difficult time converting the oxidized form we eat into the reduced form we use

3. Statin drugs directly affect our ability to produce CoQ10 in the body  (25-35 years old

100mg of ubiquinone (oxidized form) / 35+ years old 100mg of ubiquinol (reduced form)

 

Take Care Of Your Mouth

Several studies have linked oral health, especially gum disease, with heart trouble.  While the American Heart Association has come out saying there isn’t enough evidence to prove a direct link, it doesn’t change the fact that the mouth is one of the primary sources of chronic inflammation… and chronic inflammation has been associated with coronary artery disease.

 

Avoid Trans Fats

Trans fats are made from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it solid, increase shelf life, and making food feel less greasy.  Trans-fats have been shown to increase LDL (bad) cholesterol, decrease HDL (good) cholesterol, clog arteries, and make it difficult for our bodies to use Omega-3 well.  Trans fats are what has given saturated fats such a bad name.  You’ll find trans fats in bakery goods, processed snack foods, crackers, margarines, and deep fried foods.  This is nasty stuff! (look for ‘partially hydrogenated’ in the ingredients and then put it back) TIP: trans fats are now listed on the label under fats, but they can claim 0 grams of trans fats if there is less than 0.5 grams per serving.  Take crackers for instance, they can list the serving size at just 5 crackers and maybe the trans fat is 0.4 grams per serving… we don’t know, because it just says 0 grams.  But the ingredients will list partially hydrogenated oil.

 

Fiber

About half of the cholesterol made in the body each day is used to make bile acids.  Bile acids are used for digestion in our intestines.  All that cholesterol is halfway out the door.  Soluble fiber grabs that cholesterol and escorts it the rest of the way before it’s absorbed into the body.  (25-30 grams per for women & 35-40 for men of total fiber)

 

Sleep

Sleep deprivation can increase your blood pressure and cortisol levels.  Research has shown that people who are not getting enough sleep (less than 6 hours), are twice as likely to die of a heart attack.  (um… sleep)

 

Sucrose & Fructose

Over consumption increases the risk of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.  Let’s get something straight, sugar itself is NOT evil and a little sugar is not bad for you.. it’s the insane amount we eat that is the problem.  The average Englishman in 1700 consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year… Americans are now up to 77 pounds per year!  So we are genetically the same, but went from 4 pounds to 77.  What could go wrong?  (eat sugar like an Englishman in 1700)

 

Vitamin D

Several studies have linked low Vitamin D to heart and stroke problems.  One study found that those with very low (less than 15ng/ml) were twice as likely to have a stroke.  Those individuals were also significantly more likely to develop coronary artery disease. 60ng/ml seems to be optimal, but we all need to get at least above 40ng/ml.  (get your levels checked and talk to your doctor)

 

Omega-3

You knew I wasn’t going to leave this out.  Omega-3 helps decrease inflammation, supports proper blood flow, maintains healthy blood vessels, and improves overall heart function.  (get at least 500mg of quality omega-3 per day and reduce the amount of omega-6 by cutting way back on vegetable oil… start cooking with coconut oil)

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Co-Founder of NutritionGeeks, retired USAPL drug-free powerlifter, volunteer youth wrestling coach, father of 3 amazing boys and interested in all things health

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