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Why Take Care of Your Heart?

Heart HealthThe heart is said to be a place we feel emotion and love. But in reality it is a vital organ we rely on for life. As we know the heart pumps blood around the body, feeding every living cell, via blood vessels known as arteries or veins. Unrestricted blood vessels make the job of circulation easy, but once blood vessels become blocked or restricted, circulation is hindered. Restriction is usually caused by a build-up of plaque (fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood) in the arterial walls known as Atherosclerosis. Over time, this plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. This condition can lead to heart disease, angina and/or stroke.

If you smoke, have type 2 diabetes, are overweight or not physically active, if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, then you are at risk of developing Atherosclerosis.

Ways in which you can help keep your heart healthy

One of the most effective ways to help support your own heart’s health is to eat a healthy diet rich in a variety nutrients and high in omega 3 fatty acids. Essential fatty acids have been found to promote a healthy heart by reducing high blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA’s) found in flaxseed, have also been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels naturally. This is because the soluble fibre content of flaxseed confines fat & cholesterol to the digestive system so it isn’t absorbed and at the same time, confines bile (which is produced from cholesterol in the gallbladder). Flaxseed’s ALA content also convert to omega 3 fatty acids and so mimic similar heart health results.

Exercise may not be high on your agenda but it IS important. Exercise improves circulation and strengthens your heart. The stronger the heart, the more efficiently it can pump blood around the body. Regular exercise has been found to help lower the risk of heart disease. Exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days can help lower your cholesterol and/or blood pressure as well as help you lose weight (which also takes a lot of stress off the heart). Being overweight means the heart has to work extra hard to pump blood around the body. Weight loss can really help it to work more effectively.

Age can also affect heart health especially for women. Once menopause occurs and oestrogen levels drop, there is a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Menopause does not cause cardiovascular disease, but it can become a health risk as it commonly develops after menopause. Oestrogen is believed to positively affect artery walls, helping to keep blood vessels flexible and enabling efficient blood flow

But it can’t all be blamed on a lack of Oestrogen. So many changes happen in the body during menopause. For instance, blood pressure rises. LDL cholesterol generally increases while HDL declines or stays the same. This is where CoQ10 becomes extremely important to women about to, who are and who have gone through menopause.

#dechox is a nationwide sponsored challenge starting March 1st from the British Heart Foundation to reduce your chocolate intake whilst raising money for a ‘hearty’ cause. During this challenge, any sort of cocoa is a no-no, which means chocolate bars, treats, biscuits, ice cream, cake – and even the chocolate sprinkles on your cappuccino – are off limits during March. If you feel you can take on the challenge head over to the British Heart Foundation to sign up, start raising money and look forward to feeling better after one whole month without those sugary treats. Who knows, it may even help to curb all sugar cravings and put you on a path to healthy eating?!?

Take care of your heart to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease (this term includes heart disease, stroke, angina, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis). Eat a healthy diet filled with an array of nutrients to help support health and exercise to strengthen your heart. If you are overweight or obese, lose weight and feel great – Your heart will thank you. And remember, a great start to a healthier you is #dechox