Healthy Heart Diet, Nutrition, and Lifestyle

A healthy heart pumps blood freely through your body and is dependent on living an active lifestyle.

Consuming more foods that contain blockbusting targeted nutrients will help reduce your risks and prevent possible threats in the future.

This is important because fifty percent of all American’s will suffer from some kind of heart problem in their lifetime. With numbers that high, it's important to make efforts to reduce cholesterol levels and normalize blood pressure now.

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Heart Healthy Foods

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The formula for a healthy heart comes directly from the food sources you choose to eat. Eating a well balanced diet helps improve the overall health of your heart and blood vessels. Consuming a poor diet (the SAD for example) increases your risks.

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the adult population in the US. Last year, there were over 1.1 million deaths from cardiovascular disease and more than 700,000 strokes, which is extremely alarming.

According to the American Heart Association, over 64 million Americans have one or more types of cardiovascular disease (CVD). There are however, many easy ways to significantly lower your chances of developing heart disease and to reverse the effects of current heart conditions.

Increasing evidence points to a protective role that certain nutrients play in your diet. If heart disease runs in your family, they're even more important.

Recent scientific studies also show that SUGAR, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, contributes to heart disease MORE THAN anything else. Reason? Sugar raises insulin levels and increases the inflammatory response, which raises cholesterol! To have a healthy heart, you need to decrease inflammation. Learn to read labels and look carefully at the ingredients of the foods you consume. Cutting down on processed foods is the first step, since sugar is hidden in breads, crackers, milk, and even hotdogs. To protect your heart, please lower the amounts of sugar in your diet!

If you want to have a healthy heart, you must consume a heart healthy diet. The foods you consume play an important role in your overall health but are especially important to a healthy heart.

To keep the odds in your favor, it's good to know which foods are most beneficial and harmful. Of course, including more heart healthy foods is a great way to get rid of the unhealthy stuff anyway.

Important Sections on This Page

Dietary Guidelines

Beneficial Nutrients to Consume

Beneficial Fiber for Your Heart

Get More Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Heart Disease Statistics

Reasons to Become Heart Healthy

Risks of Smoking

Heart Disease Facts

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Dietary Guidelines for a Healthy Heart

  • If you already have blood flow problems, total fat intake should be less than 30 percent of total calories for a healthy heart.

  • Saturated fatty acid intake should be less than 10 percent of total calories.

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids make up the rest of total fat intake, about 10 to 15 percent of total calories.

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid intake should be no more that 10 percent of total calories.

  • Cholesterol intake should be no more than 300 milligrams.

  • Sodium intake should be no more than 3000 milligrams.

  • Beware of chemicals in your food like caffeine, MSG, steroids, preservatives, and other non beneficial food additives.

    Beneficial Nutrients For a Healthy Heart

    Potassium – Low levels of potassium have long been known to predispose individuals to dangerous arrhythmias. (irregular heart beats) Recent research has shown that adequate dietary potassium is essential for maintaining normal heart pressure and a healthy heart. Dietary sources of potassium include fruits, vegetables, nuts, soybeans, and fish. Eat a well rounded variety of these foods to keep a healthy heart.

    Magnesium – According to worldwide population studies, individuals who are magnesium deficient are far more likely to have heart disease. Magnesium helps prevent coronary heart spasm and ventricular arrhythmias. It also inhibits release of thromboxane, which makes blood platelets sticky and more apt to clot.

    Low magnesium levels are often seen in patients with hypertension. (high blood pressure) The consumption of alcohol depletes magnesium so beware if you're a beer or high ball lush. A recent Swedish study showed a dramatic drop in blood pressure in patients after taking magnesium supplements for a nine-week period.

    Selenium – A critical trace element for a healthy heart is selenium. People who have low levels of selenium are for more likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Low levels of selenium have been found in many AIDS patients.

    Selenium helps prevent platelet aggregation and inhibits LDL (bad cholesterol) oxidation. Selenium supplements in the elderly have proven to improve lymphocyte function. A double blind study in Wales found that taking 100 micrograms of selenium daily made patients less anxious, tired, and depressed after a five week regimen.

    Dietary sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, grains, sunflower seeds, tuna, and garlic. Recommended dosage is around 200 mcg. daily.

    Chromium Picolinate – Its estimated that 90 percent of Americans are chromium deficient. Unless you consume 3000-40000 calories a day, it’s impossible to get enough of this nutrient strictly from your diet. Therefore, you must take chromium picolinate supplements to get the beneficial effects.

    Recommended intake is 200 micrograms, which isn't much but necessary. Without sufficient chromium, excessive insulin production and hyperglycemia may develop which increases the likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, and premature aging.

    When you consume too much sugar, your insulin goes up. When insulin goes up, resistance develops. When resistance develops, blood glucose goes up. When blood glucose goes up, cholesterol goes up. When cholesterol goes up, HDL’s go down. After several decades, you’re in trouble. High insulin levels slow natural production of DHEA but chromium picolinate supplements help increase natural DHEA synthesis.

    Diabetics should not take chromium unless supervised by a physician, since it might reduce insulin requirements.

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    How Fiber Affects a Heart Health

    In the United States, coronary heart disease is a leading cause of death for both sexes. The disease is characterized by a buildup of cholesterol-filled plaque in the coronary arteries - the large arteries in your neck that feed the heart. This causes them to become hard and narrow, a process referred to as atherosclerosis. Total blockage of a coronary artery produces a heart attack. Getting a higher intake of dietary fiber can lower the risk of heart disease.

    In a Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals, researchers found that a high total dietary fiber intake was linked to a 40 percent lowered risk of coronary heart disease, compared to a a group that had a lower fiber intake. Whole grain cereals seemed particularly beneficial for the group, as long as they weren't genetically modified foods. A related Harvard study of female nurses produced quite similar findings.

    Fiber intake has also been linked with what's called 'metabolic syndrome', a combination of factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes.

    These factors include but are not limited to high blood pressure, high insulin levels, high amounts of visceral fat, high levels of triglycerides, and low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. Several studies suggest that higher intake of fiber may help ward off this increasingly common health problem.

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    Healthy Heart and Omega 3 Fatty Acids

    All fish contain omega 3 fatty acids, but they are more concentrated in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and herring. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week. Omega 3 oils can normalize abnormal heart rhythms, decrease blood clots, and improve the overall condition of arteries. Taking high lignan flax oil or fish oil regularly can greatly reduce chances of heart attacks. Omega 3 fats can also be found in foods, like walnuts and olive oil but it’s highest concentration is found in fatty fish.

    Latest Statistics from the American Heart Association

  • Coronary heart disease caused about 452,300 deaths in 2004 and is the single leading cause of death in America today.

  • Approximately 15 million people alive today have a history of heart attack, angina pectoris, or both. This is equivalent to around 8,500,000 males and 7,200,000 females.

  • This year an estimated 1.2 million Americans will have a new or recurrent coronary attack.

  • About 325,000 people a year die of coronary heart attack in an emergency hospital room or without ever seeking medical care. Most of these are sudden deaths caused by cardiac arrest, usually resulting from ventricular fibrillation.

  • From 1994 to 2004 the death rate from coronary heart disease declined 33 percent.

  • In 2004, coronary heart disease death rates per 100,000 people were 194.4 for white males and 222.2 for black males; and 115.4 for white females and 148.6 for black females.

    More Reasons to Become Heart Healthy

  • Every 34 seconds someone in the US dies from heart disease.

  • More than 2,500 American’s die from heart disease each day.

  • Every 20 seconds, someone in the US has a heart attack.

  • At least 250,000 people die of heart attacks each year before reaching a hospital.

  • Studies continue to show that under-educated people are more likely to suffer heart attacks.

  • The countries with the highest heart disease death rates are the Soviet Union, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The countries with the lowest heart disease death rates are Japan, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Canada.

  • Almost 6 million hospitalizations each year (in the United States) relate to cardiovascular disease.

  • Since 1900, Cardio-vascular Disease (CVD) has been the #1 killer in the United States for every year but 1918.

  • Every 33 seconds, a person dies from CVD in the United States.

  • Men suffer heart attacks about 10 years earlier in life than women. Research has proven that smoking cigarettes accelerates and causes heart disease. People who smoke set themselves up for numerous health and heart problems. When you smoke, you decrease your hearts ability to function normally. Smoking damages your organs, especially your heart and lungs. The best way to destroy a healthy heart is to smoke. Smoking accelerates heart disease by many different mechanisms.

    Heart Disease and Smoking

  • Speeds up progression of athero-sclerosis.

  • Alters lipid profile, with more LDL and less HDL.

  • Increases heart muscle oxygen demand by 10 percent.

  • Reduces coronary artery blood flow due to adrenaline release.

  • Diminishes coronary collateral flow reserve.

  • Lowers threshold for angina pain.

  • Interferes with efficacy of medication designed to prevent angina.

  • Raises blood levels of fibrinogen.

  • Alters the clotting mechanism with the aggregation of blood platelets.

  • Causes endothelial cell dysfunction, with reduced ability to produce chemicals that dilate the arteries.

    More Interesting Facts About Heart Disease

  • Male pattern baldness, hair in the ear canals, and creased earlobes are associated with a higher risk for heart disease in white males.

  • Research indicates that genetics are involved in the development of atherosclerosis.

  • Men who were clinically depressed had a greater risk for heart disease and heart attack than men who were not depressed.

  • Abnormally high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine are strongly linked to an increased risk of coronary artery disease and stroke.

  • People who are sedentary are almost twice as likely to suffer heart attacks as are people who exercise regularly.

  • African American women have the highest death risk from heart disease.

  • People who eat beans at least four times a week have a lower risk for heart disease (19 percent lower) than people who eat beans less than once a week.

    To have a healthy heart, do simple things each day that contribute to better health. Lose the weight you need to lose! Eat a well balanced diet! Lower high cholesterol levels! Drink plenty of water. Take antioxidants daily. Include more beans in your diet. Stop smoking! Exercise! Do what you can today, so that you're around tomorrow to enjoy another beautiful day!

    * Did you know that owning a pet can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack? Find out more about healthy aging and pets!

    Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.

    Related Pages on This Site

    Reduce the Risk of Cancer through Nutrition

    Saturated Fats are Good or Bad for Health? You Decide!

    The Benefits of Phytonutrients for Health and Aging

    Eating a Balanced Diet Decreases Weight and Increases Energy

    Omega 3 Oils – To Improve Your Health!

    Reduce the Risk of Cancer through Nutrition

    Eating a Balanced Diet Decreases Weight and Increases Energy

    Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan – An Ideal Way to Lose the Fat

    Healthy Low Fat Diet to Ditch the Pudge

    Low Carb Foods Diet Facts – Sorting Through the Confusion!

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