Ok, that got your attention! February is Healthy Heart month and I want you to be empowered to prevent heart disease. Over 800,000 people die of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. alone, every year, and I don’t want you to be one of them!
Half of those are women, the leading cause of death among women over the age of 50 is heart disease. After the first heart attack, 26% of women age 45 and older die within a year, compared to 19% of men. Sudden Cardiac Arrest after a heart attack is 95% fatal, in other words, no second chances.
Prevention is the Answer
What we can do to support a healthy heart and prevent a cardiac event.
A “heart healthy” diet by the American Heart Association consists of; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat meats, low consumption of red meat, low fat dairy, non-tropical oils, nuts and seeds. They also talk about “calories in and calories out”, burn off what you eat, as well as daily exercise.
I agree with some of this and disagree with some, so let’s unpack it…..
to fruits and vegetables because of the high fiber content, loaded with antioxidants and full of vitamins and minerals.
- Whole grains is a “no” for most folks. Three quarters of the American population is either over-weight or obese. Carbohydrates from grains is the easiest thing to remove from the diet to help with weight-loss (which reduces cardiac risk). Yes, there is value to a “whole grain”, but very few breads, crackers, bagels etc. are actually a whole grain. Most are unbleached white flour as the first ingredient and maybe a tiny bit of whole grain flour, and unless it’s organic it’s sprayed with pesticides!!
Low fat meats are a “yes” especially if you have an APOE 3/4 or 4/4 geno-type which puts you at a higher risk for Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease. Red meat is “ok” 1-2 times per week, especially if from Grass-fed beef which are much leaner.
- Low Fat dairy is a “no” in my book if you have a history of heart disease. Dairy can be very inflammatory in the body which leads to damage on the small capillaries. This is where cholesterol comes along and “repairs” the damage and builds plaque.
- No tropical oils is a “no” for me because we now know that coconut oil and palm oil have great value in feeding the cellular membrane which surrounds all of our cells. Our brain cells and nerves cells are 80% fat and are nourished by these healthy fats. These fats also helps us to feel full longer, which means we eat less food and are anti-inflammatory!
Nuts and seeds are a “yes” because of the vitamin content and the healthy fats that they contain.
What about the “calorie in calorie out” theory. We have been taught this as long as I can remember. Now we know that we can consume our calories from a higher caloric food, like healthy fats, and our body metabolizes it differently. It can be interesting to calculate your calories to see how many a day you would need to eat to lose weight, but you don’t have to. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, clean meats and healthy fats while consuming carbohydrates from non- starchy plant sources, almost always leads to weight-loss. On top of that you are getting all the “heart healthy” vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants to support the prevention of heart disease.
Supplements to Support Heart Health
There are nutritional supplements that are powerful protectors agains heart disease and for most of us, we are not getting enough in through the diet.
You may have heard some bad press on Vitamin E in regards to heart health. The “devil is in the details” on these studies and this one was the fact that they used synthetic vitamin E and only one part “dl-alpha tocopherol”, which is synthetic. 75%-90% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin E which puts you at a higher risk for heart disease. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps combat inflammation, helps make red blood cells and helps your body use Vitamin K which is important for your heart health. I would recommend 50iu daily in the mixed form of Tocopherols and Tocotrienols from a natural source. If you see dl-alpha tocopherol on the label, put it down!!
Vitamin D and K2
I always encourage my clients to get tested for Vitamin D levels, 50% of the U.S. population is deficient. Deficiency is correlated with high blood pressure, stiffening of the blood vessels and inflammation. Vitamin K2 works synergistically with calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D to impart a number of important heart health benefits. Look for a Vitamin D supplement that also contains K2. Vitamin D can be safely taken at 5,000IU daily and K2 at 150mcg. daily.
Your heart has the highest magnesium requirement of any organ, specifically your left ventricle. Without sufficient magnesium your heart cannot function properly. Use magnesium “taurate” and start with 250mg daily. This form of magnesium does not cause “loose stools” as much as magnesium citrate.
Omega 3 fish oil
EPA and DHA are the primary fats in fish oil. These have been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower triglycerides, prevent blood clots, are anti-inflammatory and can prevent cardiac arrhythmia. Make sure you “know your source” as many of the cheap brands are toxic. I recommend 2,000IU daily.
Anyone taking a statin drug MUST take CoQ10 as statins deplete you of this vital nutrient. Your heart contains the highest level of Mitochondria in the body and CoQ10 is an essential nutrient for this to produce energy (your life force). It is an antioxidant which prevents oxidation of LDL (bad guy) cholesterol thereby preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). If you have had a “heart event” you will want to take 300mg daily, otherwise for protection 100mg daily is ideal.
That’s the “short” list! There are so many nutrients that can protect our hearts from disease. Remember, food is the foundation and supplements fill in the gaps in our diets. As we age we may need more support with supplements especially if we have had any indications of cardiovascular disease.
If you haven’t done so, register with my on-line dispensary Wellevate and check out my “top picks” for nutritional supplements!
Here’s to a heart that is full of life, joy and health!
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