According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease accounts
for over 17.3 million deaths per year around the globe, making it the
leading cause of death worldwide. The number of yearly deaths due to cardiovascular
disease is projected to grow in upcoming years. Each day, nearly 2,200
Americans die from some variation of heart disease or stroke. With cardiovascular
disease as a real threat to healthy living around the world, it’s
worth taking the time to research simple changes to make in your lifestyle
that can help improve health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Diet can drastically impact your risk for cardiovascular disease. A diet
that is high in sugar, junk food, and processed ingredients is more likely
to contribute to heart disease than one that is high in vitamins, healthy
fats, and other nutrients. To help get you started on your journey to
a heart-healthy future, we’ve listed three ingredients that can
easily be incorporated into any diet. Olive oil, whole grains, and nuts
and seeds can easily substitute unhealthy oils, refined grains, and junk
snacks—with immediate benefits to your heart!
1. Olive Oil
For many, chronic inflammation is believed to be the causes of numerous
diseases. Extra-virgin olive oil is known to contain healthy fats and
anti-inflammatory substances. In addition, olive oil is high in antioxidants.
All these components make olive oil a beneficial addition to any diet.
It can be used for sautéing, in recipes that call for oil, or even
as a base for salad dressing.
Extra virgin olive oil is known to protect the heart against disease via
Reduced Inflammation: Olive oil contains oleic acid and antioxidants, both which have been
studied to reduce inflammation and prevent heart disease.
Blood Clot Prevention: It is suggested that the chance for blood clots can be prevented or lessened
by a healthy amount of olive oil present in a person’s diet.
Lower Blood Pressure: Varying studies have shown that olive oil significantly reduces blood
pressure, thereby reducing the need for blood pressure medications as well.
Improved Endothelial Function: The endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels, can be improved by
the consumption of olive oil.
Choosing quality olive oil is key to receiving its full nutrients and benefits.
Extra virgin olive oil that has not been diluted with other oils or less-quality
oil will yield more benefits to your cardiovascular system than oils that
are diluted by canola oil, soybean oil, or other oils. Check the label
to ensure quality.
2. Whole Grains
A whole grain contains all parts of the grain, including the bran, germ,
and endosperm. These have greater nutrients than refined grains and are
a better source of fiber. The American Heart Association suggests eating
six to eight servings of whole grains per day. Instead of eating as much
white, refined bread, rice and pasta, branch out into the realm of whole
grains and try these heart healthy options.
Some examples of heart-healthy whole grains include the following:
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat
Whole grains can help prevent constipation, control blood sugar and cholesterol,
and help you feel full so that you eat less. Measured, regular consumption
can keep your heart healthy.
#3 Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are an easy snack to store. Keeping them in the fridge at
home or at work will extend their shelf life and provide you with healthy
snacking options that don’t require any preparation. Replacing carb-loaded
junk snacks with nuts can significantly benefit your heart health. Nuts
and seeds are a great addition to salads, snack mixes, and even protein shakes!
Nuts are heart healthy because they contain these nutrients:
Unsaturated Fats: These are a “good” fat and suspected to lower bad cholesterol levels.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These can prevent heart attacks and promote healthy heart rhythms.
Fiber: This can help you feel fuller, lower cholesterol, and prevent diabetes.
Vitamin E: This can slow and stop plaque development in your arteries, preventing
Plant Sterols: This substance can help lower cholesterol.
L-arginine: This can make your artery’s walls more flexible and less prone
to blood clots.
Some of the healthiest nuts and seeds are macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts,
almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Before you overdo the nuts, however, remember to eat them in moderation
with healthy fats. Their high protein content can be too much for your system.
Starting Small Can Make a Difference for Heart Health
As you make these changes, remember to check in with your doctor for help
in managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases.
Simple changes, like incorporating these three heart-healthy ingredients
into your diet, can make huge differences in your health and wellness.
If you would like more information about Whittier Hospital Medical Center,
their cardiology program, or more, contact us today! We look forward to
caring for your needs and concerns.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.