Heart disease is no fun for anyone.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a broad term that encompasses several conditions that affect the heart, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias. The exact cause of heart disease can vary depending on the specific condition, but some common risk factors and mechanisms involved in the development of heart disease include:
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) puts extra strain on the heart and can cause damage to the blood vessels and heart muscle over time.
- High cholesterol: High levels of cholesterol in the blood can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, narrowing the arteries and reducing blood flow to the heart.
- Smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease due to high blood sugar levels, which can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of plaque buildup.
- Family history: A family history of heart disease can increase the risk of developing the condition.
- Sedentary lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can contribute to several risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
- Poor diet: A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease.
- Age and gender: The risk of heart disease increases with age, and men are at higher risk than women.
- Stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of heart disease by contributing to other risk factors such as high blood pressure and unhealthy behaviors like smoking and overeating.
Overall, heart disease is a complex condition that can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Managing risk factors through lifestyle changes, medication, and other interventions can help to prevent or manage heart disease.
Avoiding Heart Disease
Avoiding it requires choosing the right types of food to eat and regular activity. It is good to start with nutrient-rich foods. Nutrient-rich foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are generally lower in calories. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are also high for a balanced diet.
Research from a diet study risk assessment conducted by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University elaborated on various dietary factors that lead to heart disease and death. One of the ten nutritional factors that were associated with heart disease was the excess intake of sodium.
Excess sodium intake was estimated to be responsible for almost 10% of the 700,000 deaths related to heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes in 2012. Within the study, “diet accounted for a higher fraction of deaths among African Americans and Hispanics compared to whites.” Researchers estimated a more substantial effect of food on the risk of death in men, “primarily because of generally unhealthier dietary habits.”
The American Heart Association recommends paying attention to “bad” cholesterol levels, “good” cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. Low “bad” cholesterol or Low-Density-Lipoprotein (LDL) levels are right for your heart. Factors that can elevate these levels is a diet high in saturated and trans fats. Higher levels of “good” cholesterol or High-Density-Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol are better.
Low HDL cholesterol can put your heart at a higher risk of heart disease. Factors that can reduce these levels include smoking, type 2 diabetes, overweight, and being inactive.
According to WebMD, when you have high triglyceride levels AND a high LDL or low HDL this can result in fat deposit buildup in heart artery walls, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Proper Diet to Avoid Heart Disease
When deciding on a proper diet to follow, a good rule of thumb is to choose a diet that emphasizes:
- whole grains
- low-fat or nonfat dairy foods
- skinless lean poultry
- Olive oil, canola oil, and other non-tropical oils
- Nuts and seeds
- Limit sugar, baked goods, and saturated fats
Of course, you are not expected to rid your diet of sugary drinks, sweets, and red meats; it is suggested that your intake be limited. Moderation is the key to a healthy diet. Overeating anything could cause an imbalance in your diet. It is also essential to coordinate your food with your physical activity level to burn as many calories as you ingest. The following might help you:
Eat Delicious Heart-Healthy Meals
Heart-healthy meals are meals that are low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium, and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here are some examples of heart-healthy meals:
Grilled salmon with roasted vegetables: Grilled salmon is high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, while roasted vegetables provide fiber and vitamins. Serve with a side of brown rice for a complete and filling meal.
Turkey chili: Turkey is a lean protein source that is low in saturated fat. Make a hearty chili with beans and vegetables for a fiber-packed meal that is also low in sodium.
Grilled chicken salad: Grilled chicken is a lean protein source that can be paired with a variety of vegetables for a delicious and nutritious salad. Top with a heart-healthy dressing made from olive oil and vinegar.
Vegetable stir-fry: Stir-frying is a healthy cooking method that allows you to pack in a variety of vegetables. Use a sauce made from low-sodium soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and honey for added flavor.
Lentil soup: Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber, making them an excellent addition to any heart-healthy diet. Make a lentil soup with vegetables and herbs for a warming and satisfying meal.
Steel-Cut Oatmeal for breakfast: topped with strawberries, mango, blueberries, or other fruit
Remember to also limit your intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol, as these can all contribute to heart disease.
Healthline reports that a proper, healthy diet will energize your body so that you have the will to remain active throughout the day.
Regular Physical Activity Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
A major heart disease risk is reduced physical activity. Inactivity increases risks for heart attack.
Exercise burns calories to help in maintaining a healthy weight. Keeping a healthy weight helps to control cholesterol levels and diabetes and can even lower blood pressure. Exercise also helps to strengthen the heart muscle and makes arteries more flexible.
Whether you lift weights, run, or walk, any regular activity that gets your heart going and your blood pressure up will be beneficial. Not to mention, regular exercise will aid in the proper circulation of blood throughout the body compared to people that are not very active.
You can do many things to take control of your health and aid in the prevention of heart disease or other health issues. Proper diet, exercise, and routine checkups with your doctor are just the basics of being as healthy as possible.
These may be the basics; however, they are a good foundation for anyone who may have increased heart disease risks. If you know that heart disease runs in your family, begin your research, and improve your overall health and diet. These small steps could be the difference of developing heart disease and becoming a statistic or living a long and healthy heart disease-free life.