A healthy heart - more time to love
This month of February we are raising awareness for Heart Health. Yes! Our anatomical hearts. The one that most of us don’t pay much attention to, but is one of our most vital organs.

One thing is for sure, love is in the air. You can’t hide from it no matter how much you try. Some of us can’t wait for it and totally enjoy this month, while others can’t wait for it to be over. Nevertheless, we all love love and being loved, and it doesn’t matter the form that it comes in, once it is pure. So you can call me your Queen of hearts, and our first item of business is: our hearts. I will give you some tips of how to care for your heart so it keeps on beating and you have enough time to love and be loved.

Every 40 seconds, a person dies from heart disease

Statistics state that in the US, every 40 seconds, a person dies from heart disease, so that’s approximately 2,200 persons every day. That means that before you have even finished reading this article, someone has just died from a heart related disease.

Today we will be looking at Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), which is a condition in which the walls of the arteries supplying blood to the heart’s muscle become thickened and narrowed. This narrowing, hardening and thickening is called atherosclerosis and it is dangerous because it slowly and gradually restricts the supply of blood to the heart. Blood clots can also form due to the damage caused to the walls of the arteries and lead to further obstruction. The gradual obstruction of the blood flow is what eventually leads to a heart attack.

Obstructed arteries

So what can we do?

There are multiple factors that can put you at risk of having coronary heart disease. Some of these factors are smoking, alcohol drinking, lack of physical activity, and also having an unhealthy diet.

So if you smoke or drink alcohol start by reducing the amount. In the following weeks we will learn more about exercise and physical activity but from today you can start walking at least 15 minutes a day.

Today we will be looking at what we eat, especially our fruits and vegetables. They don’t only look good with their bright colours but also once consumed in copious amounts can provide a shield of protection from cardiovascular disease. Dietary fibre, especially soluble fibres which are found in fruits and vegetables and certain cereals like oats and especially in beans like pinto, red, black and lentils, help to lower cholesterol.

Folic acid which is high in foods like beans, greens, beets, citrus and broccoli, help protect against cardiovascular disease, by lowering levels of an artery-damaging compound in the blood which is associated with smoking and hypertension. Also fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and also protect against heart disease, so the more fruits and vegetables consumed, the better the protection.

To achieve this, we need to consume approximately 5 to 6 servings of any variety of fruits and vegetables throughout an entire day. A serving of fruit is equivalent to one fruit like an orange, banana, an apple or one cup or the dollar bag of fruit. 

 

 In terms of vegetables a serving is equivalent to a cup of greens either cooked or raw, like chiya, callaloo, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and other vegetables like pumpkin, carrots, beets, broccoli and cauliflower. You receive the optimum benefits from these once consumed in their most natural state. If cooked do it with as little amounts of water and oil as possible. If fresh is not available, frozen is your next best option. Canned options are high in sodium which has evidence of raising blood pressure and cause more problems.

These changes can be done gradually. Start today by taking care of one of your most vital organs. So, until next time, this is your friendly nutritionist, wishing you a great rest of week and reminding you that we only have one body, so let’s take the best care of it as we possibly can. Remember that prevention is better than cure - show your heart some love!