Heart disease is still the number one killer globally. So, taking care of your heart health should be Number One on your priority list. The good news is that so much solid evidence-based science that tells us the exact lifestyle changes that are required for heart health. So, my friends, let’s dive in, stick to the scientific facts, and check off my short preventative heart care list below.
- Reduce your saturated fat intake. This is number one on my list because it’s where the most dramatic results have been studies – both good and bad. It’s my opinion that there’s a lot of slightly worrying information flying around about how saturated fats aren’t bad for you or your heart. BE CAREFUL if any expert is espousing the benefits of a Paleo/Ketogenic diet (which is typically high in saturated fat), or telling you that saturated fats really aren’t a problem where heart health is concerned. If you are in doubt, do some thorough research so that you can really understand how meat and saturated fats can affect the health of your arteries. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. I have spent years researching this good/bad issue of saturated fats, and have settled on the side of evidence-based science. I can’t really find any better information to make my point than this: A Presidential Advisory From The American Heart Association – clearly and simply states that saturated fats should be eliminated or minimized for heart health. Also you might want to watch the movie, “What The Health”. It provides some fascinating and provocative info about who is behind much of the misinformation, which incidentally is intended to create doubt and confusion. It’s actually rather sinister!
- Exercise throughout the day! Sitting is the new smoking. This study by The American College of Cardiology concludes that sitting for many hours per day is associated with coronary artery calcification, which can increase the risk of a heart attack. Instead of thinking you have to do a massive gym workout daily, think about how you can integrate moving into your regular day. I recommend setting up reminders in your phone to get up from your desk and move around every hour: You could go for a walking meeting with a colleague, trot around the block a few times (good for stress too), have a kettle bell next to your desk and do a few swings etc. Always try to take the stairs, park far away from the store entrance, and look for any opportunity to walk further than you normally would. Obviously working out 3 or 4 times a week is a great idea (hiking, cycling, dancing, gym, pilates etc), but making sure that you don’t sit for long stretches of time is equally important.
- Eliminate sugary drinks and diet soda: Yikes – a massive study showed that consumption of sugary drinks is associated with adverse cardiovascular risk. And just when you were thinking you could grab a diet coke instead, another study showed that women who consumed 2 or more diet sodas a day were putting themselves at risk for a cardiac event.
- Get your lab work done annually. Even if you are in pretty good shape, cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn recommends the following tests: EKG, and labs for Vitamin D, Cholesterol, Lipoprotein, homeysteine measurement, inflammations marker (hd-CRP), and a scan called a Coronary Arterial Calcium Scan (CACS). Also, it might seem obvious (and unnecessary if you young and super fit), but always keep an eye on your blood pressure.
- Rest and Renew: Stress and under six hours of sleep have found to be huge contributors to heart disease. An interesting study found that people who slept less than 6 hours a night had a 79% greater risk of coronary heart disease. If you have a really hard time sleeping, try boosting your Melatonin levels by eating almonds, raspberries, and goji berries. The other fruit that has been found to help with insomnia is kiwi fruit. My daughter who has trouble sleeping swears by Sleepy Time Extra Tea, and my Sleepy Time Pillow Spray.
Make sure you are subscribed to my You Tube channel as I have a ton of heart-healthy recipes in the works!