Your Heart Healthy Diet Plans Will Shape Your Better Health for Today
Basic Facts about the Heart
All organs are essential but the human heart is perhaps the most important organ in the body after the brain. The heart is the symbol of life, as your heartbeat determines whether you are dead or alive. In addition, doctors can easily tell if a woman is (7 weeks) pregnant by simply detecting the heartbeat of the baby using ultrasound.
As far as fun facts are concerned, the heart:
- Is roughly the size of a fist
- Is located at the center of the chest towards the left
- Weight between 230 and 340 grams
- Beats 100,000 times in a day (60 to 80 beats per minute)
- Pumps 5.7 liters of blood
This vital organ is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body thereby supplying oxygen, nutrients and hormones to your cells. It also distributes white blood cells to every corner of your body in case of any pathogenic attack.
Notably, the heart works in conjunction with blood vessels and the lungs to pump oxygen-rich blood to body tissues. At the same time, it is responsible for disposing metabolic wastes such as carbon dioxide and nitrogenous wastes from the blood.
Whenever, the heart malfunctions, the body tends to suffer as your tissues and cells become deprived off sufficient supply of blood. With this in mind, taking care of your heart’s health is of utter importance
Unfortunately, most people do not care about the health of their heart until they are much older. After all, most ailments that affect the heart begin when someone is in their 50s or 60s. Nevertheless, with more people eating junk and processed foods today, it is just a matter of time before we start hearing cases of stroke and heart disease affecting young adults.
The good news is that all these conditions are preventable. All you have to do is consume heart-healthy diets, combined with moderate exercise to establish your better health for today!
Common Ailments That Affect the Heart
Before delving into some of the healthy diets that are good for your heart, let’s have a look at some of the ailments that affect your cardiovascular health. This will give us a better understanding as to why you need to take care of your heart’s health.
The most common heart ailments and disorders include:
- Coronary Artery Disease
This disease occurs when the blood vessels and arteries in the heart become narrowed or blocked by plaque deposits that contain fats and cholesterol subsequently restricting the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Without treatment, the disease can lead to angina, heart attack or even death.
Arrhythmia is a condition that causes the electrical system of the heart to malfunction. In essence, the disease causes irregular heartbeats whereby your heart may beat too quickly or too slowly or in between the two at various intervals. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and extreme fatigue.
- Peripheral Arterial Disease
The peripheral arterial disease occurs when the arteries become blocked subsequently limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to other organs and areas in the body. The disease emanates from the heart but affects other parts of your body especially the legs, feet, thighs and calf muscles.
Angina is a condition that comes because of coronary artery disease. The condition is characterized by discomfort, heaviness and pain in the chest and left arm due to lack of enough supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart. Risk factors that may lead to Angina include cigarette smoking and cold temperatures.
- Heart Attack
A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs when supply of blood to part of your heart muscle is completely blocked. The blockage may be due to a blood clot that develops in one of the arteries or the presence of fatty deposits that block the arteries. The good news is that the damage is reversible so long as the doctor diagnoses the problem early.
- Enlarged Heart (Cardiomegaly)
An enlarged heart is caused by high blood pressure or coronary artery disease. The condition is characterized by damaged heart muscles that do not pump blood effectively. This may lead to congestive heart failure as the heart’s ability to pump blood declines gradually. Cardiomegaly is not reversible and patients may require lifelong treatment and therapy to manage the condition.
- Pulmonary Stenosis
Pulmonary Stenosis is a condition that occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood effectively from the right ventricle into the corresponding pulmonary artery due to tight valves. This might cause too much pressure to the heart, leading to severe complications such as heart failure and cardiac arrest.
- Inherited Heart Conditions
Inherited heart conditions are hereditary disorders passed on through the family. These conditions can affect any age and they cannot be prevented. Fortunately, they can be well-managed or even cured through medication, surgery, eating well and exercising.
Heart Healthy Diets That Improve Cardiovascular Health
Alarmingly, one in every four deaths in the United States is related to heart disease. Fortunately, this is all avoidable by eating well, exercising and dropping bad lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive drinking and consuming junk, fatty food.
Here are a few heart-healthy foods that you should consider to improve your cardiovascular health.
Fish such as tuna, mackerel, trout, salmon and herring are some of the foods that are rich in nutrients that are good for the heart. They contain Omega-3s and fatty acids that are essential for cardiovascular health.
- Healthy Nuts & Legumes
Nuts and legumes are not only good for your heart, but also ideal for your weight. Eating nuts such as almonds help satisfy your hunger at the same time suppress your appetite by making you feel full.
Oatmeal is known to contain soluble fiber that significantly reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. With this in mind, consuming small portions of oatmeal can help reduce the absorption of bad cholesterol into your bloodstream.
Berries are renowned to help with mental health. However, recent studies suggest that eating blueberries can lower the risk of heart attack. They contain antioxidants and are rich in Vitamin C and fiber, which are essential nutrients for optimum cardiovascular health.
- Fruits & Vegetables
Your diet should also contain reasonable portions of vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, garlic, carrots and tomatoes to improve the functions of the heart.
- Skinless Poultry
If you love eating chicken, then opt for skinless poultry, as it contains unsaturated fats that are good for your health. The skin of any fowl contains high levels of cholesterol. For this reason, it should be omitted from your diet.
- Fiber-rich whole grains
Fiber rich whole grains offer numerous benefits ranging from improved digestion to disease prevention. Dietary fiber also helps manage blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.
- Dark Chocolate
Believe it or not, but chocolate is good for the heart. Various studies conclusively indicate that cocoa beans used to make chocolate contain polyphenols, which are compounds that may help lower the risk of heart disease. Nevertheless, this does not mean that you should buy a whole box of chocolate the next time you go shopping.
- Red wine
Red wine contains antioxidants and resveratrol that make it heart healthy. However, it should be consumed at least once a day in small quantities, preferably after dinner.
Why Moderate Exercise is good for your Heart’s Health
Apparently, working out lowers blood pressure, burns excess fat and cholesterol, improves circulation and manages your weight. Importantly, exercising lowers the risk of developing heart disease and it prevents the onset of other heart-related conditions.
The best part is that you do not have to exercise on a daily basis. In addition, your workout schedule does not have to be intense. You can indulge in any physical activity that keeps your heart beating, such as swimming, dancing, walking, jogging or aerobics.
Take Away: Optimum Health Needs to be Nurtured
According to statistics from the World Health Organization, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world. What most people do not know is that conditions affecting the heart are preventable through eating heart-healthy diets and exercising moderately.
Importantly, you do not have to wait until you are in your 50s or 60s to start on this diet. You can begin right away to prevent the onset of heart disease and other lifestyle conditions. In any case, eating healthy foods can go a long way to maintain your health and general well being. Importantly, you need to be consistent in your diet choices and practice routines. A slight relapse may reverse all the gains achieved over the years. It is therefore prudent to maintain a strict plan.
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