Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Your heart is what keeps you going. Make sure you keep it happy.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Americans, both of men and women, claiming a life every 36 seconds.

There are over 500,000 that fall victims of heart disease each year. Regardless of your ethnicity, taking care of your heart is important. The American Heart Association each year brings awareness of the dangers of heart disease and stroke. Here are some signs and symptoms of heart disease:

  1. Chest pain, chest tightness or pressure in the chest (discomfort).

  2. Shortness of breath

  3. Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms. These parts of the body is where the blood vessels are narrowed.

  4. Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back.

So you are wondering, what can prevent heart disease? A healthy exercise regimen and a healthy diet. Here are some foods to keep in mind when preparing meals or snacking that will help keep your heart in check:

  1. Beets These wonderful veggies will help keep blood vessels dilated and healthy. By simply drinking a cup of beet juice daily significantly lowered blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Other nutrient rich veggies and fruits include carrots, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, oranges, cantaloupe and papaya.

  2. Pumpkin seeds These wonderful seeds may help lower blood pressure. They are rick in fiber and a variety of nutrients, particularly magnesium.

  3. Walnuts - This nutritious nut will help lower overall blood pressure. A handful daily will help, especially if you don’t eat fish, it is a good way to get Omega-3 fats. Eating nuts, particularly walnuts, two or more times per week helped lower risk of cardiovascular mortality. One word to keep in mind when eating nuts – moderation. Since they are calorie dense, keep portions modest to avoid added salt, sugar or oils.

  4. Olive oil - This will not only boost good, heart protective cholesterol, but will stave off diabetes and strokes. USDA guidelines recommends 27 grams (two tablespoons) a day, maximum. Also, olive oil is very low in saturated fats.

  5. Garbanzo Beans - These legumes are full of fiber, which can lower your bad LDL cholesterol. All members of the legume family are super healthy because they are full of plant based protein and the kind of fiber that lowers cholesterol.

  6. Oatmeal - This is touted for its healthy properties helping to cut down on cholesterol absorption and contributes to gut health. Soluble fiber is really important for our digestive tract and keeping blood sugar levels stable. In addition to Oatmeal, you can also try quinoa, whole-grain rice (brown or wild), whole grain bread and cereal.

  7. Salmon - The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, particularly salmon and other oily fishes high in omega-3 fatty acids – twice per week to help stave off the risk of heart failure, stroke and other coronary diseases. Other sources are trout, herring, albacore tuna, sardines and mackerel.

  8. Blueberries - Most berries are high in soluble fiber and polyphenols (antioxidants that absorb free radicals). In addition, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries all have heart healthy credentials for their fiber as well as their flavonoids and antioxidants. If you don’t like berries, try grapes which are high in resveratrol, a heart healthy antioxidant.

  9. Broccoli and brussels sprouts – Most veggies are great for cardiovascular health, however, broccoli and brussels sprouts are high in disease fighting flavonoids and carotenoids as well as cholesterol lowering fiber. They have a caloric density which means you can eat a lot without tipping the scale. In addition to these two veggies, you can also try spinach, kale, baby greens, and collard greens. Dark leafy veggies will reduce your total risk of cardiovascular disease and or diabetes.

For more information on heart disease and stroke and keeping your heart health during every calendar month, please contact your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider or cardiologist, contact your HRBC agent at 1-877-651-7526 TTY: 711, for a list of insurances and providers to help keep you on the path to good health.