Many people decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle as they get older because they want to protect themselves from heart disease and support improved cardiovascular function. Researchers from Harvard Medical School released data from the 10-year Women’s Health Study, which found that exercise benefited patients’ heart in several different ways:
- 10 percent of the benefits were related to losing weight and reducing obesity,
- 9 percent of the benefits were associated with improving diabetes,
- 35 percent of the benefits were related to lowering of cholesterol and blood lipids, and
- 32 percent of the benefits came from reducing inflammation in the body.
When the body becomes less inflamed, it’s more difficult for the blood to clot and it’s less likely that the coronary arteries will become blocked. It should also be noted that inflammation encourages the body to release cytokines into the body, which may damage blood vessels leading to the heart and become an ideal target for plaque formation. Damaged blood vessels with cholesterol deposits sometimes lead to heart attacks or strokes. Exercise reduces blood vessel damage and helps prevent heart attacks too. Best of all, researchers reported that even walking briskly for 17 minutes a day is enough to reduce the risk of heart disease by a whopping 40 percent.
In addition to exercise, heart disease prevention starts in the kitchen. We all know that certain foods should be generally avoided due to their high amount of saturated or trans-fat: butter, lard, margarine, bacon fat, gravy, cream sauce, cocoa butter, and coconut / palm oil. On the other hand, there are some good fats to include in our diets for better heart health. Some of these include:
- Blueberries, which are full of antioxidants that fight inflammation and lower bad cholesterol
- Cinnamon contains antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 23 percent
- Crushed red pepper burns fats and increases the metabolism to prevent clumps of plaque
- Curry added to cauliflower or chicken can short-circuit the heart enlargement process
- Flaxseeds are rich in ALA fatty acid that regulates blood pressure, blood fat and inflammation
- Ginger relaxes the muscles and reduces inflammation in the body for better blood-flow
- Legumes have soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol and improves insulin resistance
- Nuts have omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, vitamin E and phytochemicals ideal for heart health
- Oatmeal contains soluble fiber and B Vitamins that lower cholesterol and reduce heart risks
- Olive oil has monounsaturated fats and Phenolics that improve blood vessel function in arteries
- Peppermint served with yogurt, berries or ricotta provides potassium that regulates heart rate
- Salmon’s omega-3s reduce triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels for smoother flowing blood
- Soy found in certain milks, tofu and beans has cholesterol-lowering properties
- Spinach contains B vitamins and antioxidants that fight disease, while Mg lowers blood pressure
- Wine (red) and grape juice have high levels of antioxidants that protect the vascular system
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