Heart your heart

February is American Heart Month so there’s no better time than now to talk about taking care of your heart!  Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States?  One in every 3 deaths is caused by heart disease or stroke.

Well, what to do about it?  Diet and exercise are pretty much all that you have control over.  Sometimes genetics just suck.  Oh well, nothing we can do about that but we can certainly make sure our diet is heart friendly and that we’re exercising enough.  We owe it to our hearts.  I know i expect a lot out of my heart so I should treat it right.

The heart is a muscle and needs to be worked just like any other muscle in the body.  I like to think about my body when i don’t work out and how unhappy i get with the way it looks. Imagine the heart like that.  Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean that it’s not looking puny, fat, and saggy!  We want our thighs to look good, we should also want our heart to look good, right?!  😉

So, we’re exercising.  Is that enough?  No, we also need to pay attention to our diets.  Not only should we avoid trans fats but we should make sure we’re adding heart healthy foods to our diets.  Here are some to try to get in:

* blueberries- Antioxidants in these berries help fight inflammation and lower bad LDL cholesterol, blood fats, and blood sugar.

* olive and canola oil- these are high in monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy and low in trans fats

* cinnamon- contains anti-clotting properties; add cinnamon to your oatmeal, hot chocolate, granola..

* oatmeal- high in soluble fiber and full of B vitamins

* peppermint- loaded with nutrients

* nuts- packed with omega 3 fatty acids

* salmon- full of omega 3’s which reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol

* ginger- natural anti-inflammatory

* crushed red pepper- increases circulation

* red wine and grape juice- contain high levels of antioxidants

* sage- helps to lower cholesterol

* spinach- B vitamins and antioxidants fight heart disease; magnesium can help lower blood pressure

* flaxseeds- rich in ALA, a fatty acid that may help regulate blood pressure, blood fat, and inflammation

* legumes- soluble fiber lowers cholesterol and can help improve insulin resistance

* soy- helps to lower cholesterol

While you’re at it, you may as well go ahead and have some blood work done to check your cholesterol, have your doctor take a look at your blood pressure, and stop smoking!  These are all ways to heart your heart 🙂

(picture:  hearts that went in Keith’s drop bags for Ironman)

 

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