Heart health is something that we should always be thinking about since our heart is what keeps us going. Here are some considerations to keep your heart in tip top shape.
Relax and De-stress
Stress can affect our body in many ways including impacting our heart health. We can experience higher blood pressure when stressed. High blood pressure makes our heart work harder and over time this can be very taxing on our heart and could lead to a higher chance of heart attack or stroke. Take a minute to think about how you manage stress.
Here are two questions to consider:
- Do you have anything you enjoy that you can incorporate into your day to help your stress level?
- Do you have a hobby or interest that maybe you haven’t done in a while that you brings you joy and could help you de-stress?
Eat for Heart Health
Diet is important for many aspects of our health, especially our heart. Low sodium diets such as the DASH diet have long been suggested for those who need to keep their blood pressure low. Make sure to check labels on food for salt content and do your best to resist picking up that salt shaker! Fats and types of fats can also be important when eating for heart health. Fried, greasy foods could increase our cholesterol levels which can lead to dangerous clogging of the arteries of the heart. French fries might be tasty but eat these in moderation to keep your heart and blood vessels happy. And try not to avoid fats altogether, good fats such as healthy oils (in moderation) can support overall health. Before you decide to make any major dietary changes, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure it’s right for you and your specific health needs.
Just Add Spice
If eating a healthier heart diet seems boring or bland, add some spice! Spices can add more flavor to food and often have health benefits of their own. Cinnamon has blood pressure and blood sugar lowering effects. Try adding some to your morning oatmeal or yogurt. The bright yellow spice turmeric will make your food more appealing to look at and taste. Turmeric can act as a natural anti-inflammatory, which could help support the lining of the blood vessels that bring blood flow to the heart. Turmeric and cinnamon together can make a delicious tea to help you get a heart healthy start to your day.
When done safely, exercise that raises our heart rate, also known as cardiovascular exercise or cardio, can support heart health. This type of exercise makes the heart muscle work harder and can help to strengthen the muscle. The heart is a large muscle and could use strengthening just like the other muscles in our body. How else can you work up a sweat? Use a sauna. Research suggests that time spent in a sauna, steam or infrared sauna, can raise our heart rate and mimic the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Always remember to start slow when starting a new exercise program and of course check with your healthcare provider.
Consider Some Supplements
If you’re doing all of these things for your heart health and keeping up with seeing your healthcare provider, what else can you do for your heart? Consider adding supplements for additional heart and health support.
Omega fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil, are a good type of fat that could support the heart by decreasing inflammation in the blood vessels of the heart. Fish oil can be found in a capsule or liquid form. Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, has been suggested through several research studies to support heart and cardiovascular health in many ways. CoQ10 may lower blood pressure, help symptoms of heart failure, and could decrease the chance of another heart attack in those who have had a heart attack. Also, certain medications may lower the levels of CoQ10 your body makes naturally.
If high blood pressure is a concern, consider fermented garlic. Garlic capsules could help lower blood pressure in conjunction with other measures such as blood pressure medication. Worried you’ll smell like garlic? Most garlic capsules have been processed so that there is little to no garlic odor. Not all supplements are right for everyone and some may even interact with certain medications, so check with your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist before starting a new supplement.
Your heart works hard every day. Show it some love by taking some heart healthy steps!
Kylie A. Study, M.Sc, MSTOM, Dipl.OM is a licensed acupuncturist and natural wellness practitioner at the ProMedica Natural Wellness Shop in Sylvania, Ohio