Kamis, 28 November 2013

Tips on Heart Health

Tips on Heart Health

According to the American Heart Association, 16.5 million people in the United States currently have coronary artery disease (the damage or blockage of blood vessels that feed the heart). The Centers for Disease Control reports that 28 percent of all fatalities are a result of heart disease, making it the number one cause of death in the United States. Fortunately, most cases of heart disease are preventable.

Foods to Limit

    Limiting the dietary intake of sodium, which can increase blood pressure and strain the heart, and LDL cholesterol, a waxy substance that can clog the arteries which feed the heart, is a good way to maintain heart health. Foods high in sodium include highly processed foods (such as canned soup, vegetables and meats), many pork products (such as bacon, ham and pepperoni), fast food and foods to which you add extra table salt. Excessive LDL cholesterol is found in animal-based foods (eggs, meat and dairy products) and shortenings and oils, especially those high in trans fat.

Heart Healthy Foods

    While LDL cholesterol is bad for the heart, increased levels of HDL cholesterol can actually prevent blockages by removing LDL cholesterol buildups. HDL cholesterol levels can be increased by eating foods high in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish, walnuts, flaxseed and kiwi).

    Similar to how HDL cholesterol decreases the effects of LDL cholesterol, potassium (when maintained in balance with sodium) can help lessen sodium's adverse effects. Foods high in potassium include potatoes, leafy green vegetables and broccoli (and most other fruits and vegetables). Potassium can also be found in table salt substitutes.


    Lifestyle choices have a direct impact on heart health. The heart is a muscle which benefits from exercise. The American Heart Association recommends moderately intense aerobic exercise 20 to 30 minutes every day. The heart is also an organ that can be damaged through the ingestion of chemicals, particularly those inhaled while smoking. Smoking decreases oxygenation levels and encourages blood clots that can damage heart tissue. Alcohol in small, regular amounts (one or two glasses of wine a day) has been shown to improve heart health, but excessive alcohol intake damages cell walls and organs that support the heart's overall health.


    Before following any health advice, including the tips here, consult your physician.

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