Did you know that cardiovascular disease (otherwise known as heart disease) is the number one cause of death in the United States? Surprisingly this is true because about 50 million people and more suffer from hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, which is a high risk for heart disease. Following are 10 natural ways to cut your heart disease risk.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease occurs when the arteries which supply the heart with blood, oxygen, and nutrient gets narrowed. This process, referred to as coronary heart disease. can be linked to a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of fatty deposits which are rich in cholesterol or plaques in and around the walls of the arteries.
10 Natural Ways to Cut your Heart Disease Risk
As time goes on and deposits increase, the arteries are narrowed to a point where the flow of oxygenated blood is delayed. In other to cut the risk of heart disease first, we have to know what those risks are. Common risks for heart disease are cigarette smoking, high blood pressure as mentioned above, sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol and or triglycerides, diabetes mellitus, poor nutrition, obesity. Now here are ten natural ways to cut these heart disease risks:
- Smoking Cessation
This includes second-hand smoking also known as passive smoking (Inhalation of smoke, called second-hand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, by persons other than the intended “active” smoker). Smoking doubles the risk of a heart attack and also lowers the chances of survival if a heart attack occurs. Within months of smoking cessation, the risk of heart disease decreases and reaches the same level of a non-smoker in about 3-5 years.
- Lower Cholesterol Levels
High blood cholesterol leads to its accumulation in the walls of the arteries, thereby narrowing them and impeding the flow of oxygenated blood. Heart disease is more likely to occur if you have a level of total cholesterol above 200, level of HDL (Good) cholesterol below 40, level of LDL (Bad) cholesterol above 160 and triglycerides above 150. Aim for total level cholesterol under 200 mg/dL, level of LDL cholesterol under 130 mg/dL and level of HDL above 35 mg/dL.
- Adopt a Heart-Healthy Diet
Foods that are low in fat and cholesterol should be the food of choice. Everyone, of course, should have a diet that contains fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, beans, whole grains and other plant-based foods as the fiber which is present in them is good for your cholesterol, and also you get additional benefits of vitamins. Animal protein is also essential in our diet, fish can be consumed with a preference of tuna as well as salmon as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, poultry, and meat but it should be lean and a reasonable portion. Also, intake of salt and sugar should be reduced.
- Exercise as often as Possible
We all know muscles need to be exercised, but we forget that the heart is also a muscle. At least 30-40 minutes of cardiovascular exercises 4-5 times a week will go a long way in building your heart muscle. Be careful and know your limits especially if you have not exercised in a long time. Exercise of moderate-intensity even brisk walking can go a long way. Maintenance of healthy weight together with exercise can also help reduce insulin resistance and the risk of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus which is a substantial risk factor for heart disease mostly in women. Approximately half of the patients with non-dependent insulin diabetes who die are due to heart disease.
- Control High Blood Pressure
A lot of people suffer from high blood pressure. Some are even without symptoms and it is overlooked making it the most common risk factor of heart disease. Getting regular exercise together with a good healthy diet with much effort to reduce salt will go a long way.
- Control your Blood Sugar
Having diabetes increase risks of heart disease. Sadly most people do not even know they suffer from it, so it is advisable to get tested once in a while. We all know that consuming lots of sugar is dangerous for our health, but so many people are ignorant to the fact that all carbohydrates end up being broken down to sugar in our body. There is increased risk of heart disease which can be contributed to oxidative damage and inflammation caused by spikes in both blood sugar and insulin after consumption of simple carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. Control your blood sugar with diets which contain protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrate at every meal. Do not eat only carbohydrates and avoid processed sugars with carbohydrate.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
Avoid being too fat or too skinny. Studies show that oxidative damages and inflammation are caused by obesity. For people with this condition, in other to reduce the risk of heart disease, the first step is to lose weight. Bear in mind that the amount of body fat you have is not as important as for where it is stored. Abdominal fat, particularly visceral fat, is associated with risks of diseases and deaths. Most people are ignorant of the fact that being too skinny can also increase the risk of heart disease.
- Avoid or Reduce Consumption of Alcohol
Triglyceride levels are increased with intake of alcohol. Also, it can lead to an imbalance of sugar and fatty liver. Since inflammation plays a role in heart disease, reduction or cessation of alcohol leads to a reduction of inflammation, thereby reducing risk.
- Eliminate Hydrogenated Fat
These are also known as trans fats present in margarine, processed oil, as well as lots of baked and processed foods. They are very common, especially in our fast foods. Better choices will be coconut oil, extra-virgin organic cold-pressed olive oil, organic sesame oil and other nut oils.
- Manage Stress
In the society today it is very easy to get stressed. Stress can cause an increase of inflammation, a rise in cholesterol and blood sugar, increase blood pressure and even make your blood more likely to clot. Find your own way of relieving stress. It could be yoga, exercise, praying/meditating, indulging in something fun or creative, taking walks with pets, breathing techniques, cooking, spending time with family and don’t forget good sleep.
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