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World Heart Day

4 min read

World Heart Day is on the 29th September 2021, its a chance to educate yourself on all things heart health. The day raises awareness about the risks of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.

Risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all increase your chances of developing heart and circulatory diseases. Being over-weight, smoking and lack or exercise are also big impactors on heart health.

What can you do to keep your heart in top condition?

Exercise

Exercise helps your heart to learn to pump oxygen around your body more efficiently, by strengthening and toning the muscle tissue of the heart. The fitter you get, the slower your heart beat and the better your blood pressure. Your body also learns to better extract oxygen from your blood. It helps improve blood flow by improving connections and branches between blood vessels allowing the blood to travel more freely.

A major risk factor for heart disease is being over-weight. Regular exercise, as long as it's coupled with the right diet, is a great weight to reduce your weight. Try for around 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.

Diet

Everyone should aim for a well- balanced diet providing a range of nutrients but there are certain foods that are particularly important for the health of your heart.

A heart healthy diet is one that is controlled in portion size, contains plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, unhealthy fats are kept to a minimum and protein sources are lean. Limiting salt (sodium) is an important part of a heart healthy diet as eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.

Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, they are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Plants and plant-based foods contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may also help you cut back on higher calorie foods, such as meat, cheese and highly processed snack foods.

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health.

Reducing the amount of saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reducing your blood cholesterol and lowering your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a build-up of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Lean meat, poultry and fish as well as low-fat dairy products and eggs are some of your best sources of protein. Fish is also a good alternative to high-fat meats - those rich in omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood fats called triglycerides. High triglycerides are known to contribute to the risk of heart disease and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels. The highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources include flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and rapeseed oil.

Beans, peas and lentils also are good, low-fat sources of protein and contain no cholesterol, making them great substitutes for meat.

If you struggle to maintain a healthy well-balanced diet then taking supplements can counter that nutritional shortfall.

Supplements for heart health

Co-enzyme Q10 and Ubiquinol

Co-enzyme Q10 is found in all cells of the body and in a particularly high concentration in the heart. CoQ10 is used for energy production and is often referred to as “the body’s spark plug”. The heart is the most energy-demanding organ in your body hence why Co-Q10 is found there so abundantly.

Levels of coenzyme Q10 within the body declines with age, which is why ubiquinol supplements are popular with those over the age of 50 to reduce the effects of coenzyme Q10 deficiency.

Ubiquinol is the most absorbable form of co-enzyme Q10. It's particularly beneficial for your heart health by reducing markers associated with inflammation and by acting as an antioxidant in your blood to prevent atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).

Omega-3 fatty acids

A daily intake of 250mg of EPA and DHA supports:

  • normal cardiac function
  • the maintenance of normal blood pressure
  • the maintenance of normal blood HDL-cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations
  • the maintenance of normal blood concentrations of triglycerides.

The Omega 3 fats EPA and DHA can help protect the heart and blood vessels from disease by lowering triglycerides (a fat that enters our blood after a meal), improving circulation (blood flow around the body), preventing blood clots, lowering blood pressure and keeping the rhythm of your heart steady.

A fish-free source of omega-3's comes in the form of ALA - this can be found in flaxseed oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, linseed, chia and hemp seeds.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols work by stopping cholesterol from the things we eat being absorbed in the small intestine. As a result, plant sterols can keep your cholesterol levels at the normal level, or even better, help lower your blood cholesterol and thus reduce a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Consuming 800mg of plant sterols daily helps to maintain normal cholesterol levels while a cholesterol-lowering benefit is obtained with a daily intake of 1,500mg – 3,000mg plant sterols.

Magnesium

Magnesium is referred to as the “spark of life” and has a very important role in supporting the nervous system and muscle function, including the heart muscle.

Magnesium is central to a healthy heart rhythm because it's involved in transporting other electrolytes, such as calcium and potassium, into cells. Electrolytes are all-important for nerve signals and the muscle contractions of a normal heartbeat.

Magnesium is responsible for regulating blood pressure and glycaemic control and is therefore critical to the normal functioning of the cardiovascular system.

Related Supplements

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.
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