Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, there's a cardiovascular disease death every 36 seconds in the US.
That's the bad news, but the good news is that there's a lot you can do to protect yourself and your heart.
Here are 5 good habits, 5 heart-healthy diet tips, and 5 nutrients to focus on (whether through diet or supplementing).
1. Don't smoke!
If you're looking for a sign that it's time to quit, this is it. But even second-hand smoke increases your risk of heart disease 25-30%! Minimize your time spent around smokers for ideal heart health.
2. Get moving
Do you sit while you work all day? Researchers looked at 800,000 people and found that those who sat the most had a 147% increase in cardiovascular events and a 90% increase in death.
Try walking around hourly, always take the stairs, and make a little physical activity part of your routine- even if it's just an evening stroll. Even cleaning counts!
Strength training is especially good, because it improves muscle mass which helps you maintain a healthy weight in addition to getting your heart moving (plus, it's great for your bones).
3. Brush your teeth & floss
Poor dental health is linked to heart disease. Bacteria in the mouth can elevate C-reactive protein, a marker for blood vessel inflammation. This increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Those who sleep less than 6 hours per night are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack. Sleep improves blood pressure and inflammation.
5. Don't stress
Find healthy outlets to manage your stress, like yoga or meditation, or even a simple walk (see point 2!). Hanging out with animals can be especially beneficial.
1. Avoid packaged food
Especially avoid trans fats like those in margarine. Look for partially-hydrogenated oils on the ingredient list. These raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol).
2. Drink green tea
Just a couple of cups of green tea per day can significantly lower your rates of angina and heart attacks. Pair it with dark chocolate for extra antioxidant benefits.
3. Fruits and veggies first
Pack as much fruits and vegetables as you can into your meals, adding whole grains and lean protein as well. Breakfast is especially important!
4. Eat your oils
Tree nuts such as almonds and walnuts are rich in heart-healthy fats. Replace your snacks with a handful of nuts, and aim to eat oily fish twice per week (small oily fish like sardines are especially great).
5. Limit salt
If the entire U.S. population reduced their daily salt intake to 1/2 tsp, we would add 144,000 to 392,000 years of life to the population and save $10-$24 billion in healthcare costs every single year. (1)
1. Magnesium and B6
Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure and B6 helps with magnesium absorption. Seeds are especially rich in magnesium, and B6 is found primarily in fish and meat (especially organ meat) but also in leafy greens. Watch this space for an announcement!
2. Vitamins D3 + K2
You may have heart how important vitamin D is for the heart, but did you know that vitamin K helps move it away from arteries and into the bones? It protects arteries and prevents clotting. Vitamin K2 is mostly found in fermented dairy products and fermented soybeans (natto). Check out Why Not Natural's liquid D3-K2 here.
3. B complex
When taken in combination, B vitamins lower the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart disease. Check out Why Not Natural's B Complex here.
4. Omega 3s
You can eat fish twice per week, or take a good omega 3 fish oil supplement. If you want a good vegan source, try algal oil: the only vegan source of EPA and DHA oils.
5. Herbs: Ceylon Cinnamon + Berberine
Ceylon cinnamon and berberine are two of the most powerful blood sugar and inflammation fighters. Couple those with garlic, turmeric, and piperine, and you've got an unbeatable team of herbs for the heart.
Check out Why Not Natural's herbal support here.
1) Projected Effect of Dietary Salt Reductions on Future Cardiovascular Disease
Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D., Glenn M. Chertow, M.D., M.P.H., Pamela G. Coxson, Ph.D., Andrew Moran, M.D., James M. Lightwood, Ph.D., Mark J. Pletcher, M.D., M.P.H., and Lee Goldman, M.D., M.P.H.