Heart disease affects approximately 2.3 million people in the UK alone.
At least two million people suffer from angina, a common symptom of coronary artery disease characterised by restricted blood flow to the heart that results in chest pain.
If those numbers aren’t scary enough, imagine that more than 73,000 deaths in the United Kingdom are due to heart disease and one in six men will die from it.
Here are some scientifically proven methods for protecting your heart. If you don't want to become a statistic before your time, it's worth following these healthful habits.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries, blocking the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart.
It is caused by a narrowing and hardening of small blood vessels and may eventually result in heart attacks, ruptures and other conditions that can be fatal.
Symptoms of heart disease include pressure or pain in the chest (a feeling like someone is squeezing or pressing down on the area), general weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath during activities such as walking, and pain or numbness in the arms, stomach, upper back and breastbone.
What to Eat for Better Heart Health
The best way to promote natural heart health is by following an alkalising diet that reduces inflammation that may otherwise cause narrowing arteries to restrict blood flow.
An alkalising diet also helps keep cholesterol levels in balance, which prevents the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
Foods to include in a heart-healthy alkalising diet include:
- Antioxidant and fibre-rich plant-based foods
- Vegetables of all kinds, especially cruciferous vegetables, beets, carrots, dark leafy greens, onions, artichokes and mushrooms
- Fruits of all kinds, especially citrus fruits and berries
- Legumes and beans
- Anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, curry, ginger, rosemary and thyme
- Green, black, white and oolong teas
- Nuts, seeds, avocados, wild-caught salmon, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
- Small amounts of red wine
- Raw dairy products
Natural Remedies for a Healthy Heart
Avoid the wrong foods
One of the most effective ways to protect your heart is by avoiding harmful foods.
A 2002 study published in Circulation showed that modification of LDL or “bad” cholesterol is the most important way to prevent the development of heart disease and its complications.
The study went on to state that cholesterol levels can be increased by saturated fatty acids, especially trans fatty acids.
While not all food sources of saturated fats are bad, try to focus on plant-based protein, fibre and antioxidant-rich foods instead.
Although it has yet to be proven that inflammation causes cardiovascular problems, researchers are well aware that it is a risk factor.
A 2004 study stated that inflammation plays a role in all stages of atherothrombosis, which is a cardiovascular complication that may lead to stroke and heart attack.
Inflammatory foods are processed foods which are high in refined sugar or carbohydrates. They cause irritation of the tissues and organs, which disrupts functioning and causes an acidic blood pH level.
Trans fats are among one of the top sources of inflammatory foods. Others to look out for include:
- Conventional, pasteurised dairy products
- Refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Conventional and processed meats including deli meat
- Corn, soybean and vegetables oils
- Packaged foods, sweets and candy
People who smoke cigarettes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease as the chemicals in tobacco are harmful to blood cells.
Smoking has been shown to damage the function and structure of the heart and blood vessels, which increases the risk of several forms of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.
Even light or occasional smoking damages the heart. Avoid any type of smoking and second-hand smoking at all costs if you want to protect your heart.
Your heart is a muscle that needs to be worked like every other muscle in the body.
Cardiovascular exercise is the best way to strengthen your heart and reduce the risk of heart disease while also improving circulation.
According to a 2010 study, physically active people have up to a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease than inactive people.
Start slow by walking for thirty minutes three times a week. Gradually increase duration and intensity of aerobic activity and don’t forget to add resistance training as well.
Exercise has other knock-on benefits, of course. For example, it's the best way to reduce stress, which has been linked with cardiovascular disease.
Essential oils have long been known to improve sleep habits and reduce stress, but did you know they can also help protect your heart?
One study showed that essential oils were able to improve the quality of sleep for hospitalised patients dealing with heart disease.
It's worth remembering that sleep is a very important part of cardiovascular health!
What About Heart Health Supplements?
There are a broad range of heart-healthy nutrients that should be included in your daily regimen.
Vitamins D and K, and CoQ10, have been shown to reduce inflammation and speed up the body’s ability to heal itself.
Omega-3 oils are also beneficial for heart health, as they includes anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
QuattroCardio is a convenient way to cover very many aspects of heart health. As a great source of fish oils, vitamin K2, vitamin D3 and coenzyme Q10, it contains everything you need to reduce inflammation and support a healthy cardiovascular system.
To find out more about how QuattroCardio can help, please visit our products page here.
If you want to read a comprehensive article about the best nutrition for the heart, meanwhile, our blog of the same name is a great resource.