Healthy Eating For A Healthy Cardiovascular System

So in the last blog post we discussed some of the less well known aspects of cardiovascular health. Essentially that cholesterol is not the bad guy it has been made out to be. In fact research has without doubt shown the importance of cholesterol in health! What is important is the number and size of the LDL particles and their degree of oxidation. Remember the boats carrying the cargo on the river?

So, a big question is what can we do to support a healthy cardiovascular system and reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease? A summary can be found below. These are some of the main steps I feel will support health but it is certainly not complete. But – as many of you know – sleep better, reduce stress, eat a healthier diet, exercise and you will most likely see some improvement in your health. Not many of us do all four, every day. I dare you to try… for 2 weeks! ;0)

NUTRITION:

Antioxidants
Our antioxidant defense system is what protects us from oxidative damage, which as you now know is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is worth noting that as well as fruit and vegetables being a great source of antioxidants red meat and organ meats are also a very rich source. In fact some of the antioxidants found in red and organ meats aren’t found in significant amounts in plant foods, like CoQ10 and retinol, which is preformed vitamin A. Therefore aim to eat the rainbow, choosing a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables, as well as organ meats, meats, eggs, and grass-fed dairy.

Healthy Blood Sugar
Maintain healthy blood sugar levels by eating a higher protein, lower carbohydrate based diet. Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar.

Polyphenol-rich Foods
Polyphenols are “a diverse class of molecules made by plants, certain fungi, and a few animals”. They serve a lot of purposes including defense against predators and infections, defense against sunlight damage, chemical oxidation, and coloration. Some of the best studied polyphenol-rich foods according to Chris Kresser are: tea, especially green tea; blueberries; extra-virgin olive oil; red wine; citrus fruits; hibiscus tea; dark chocolate; coffee; turmeric; and other herbs and spices. An important note here is organic fruit and vegetables have a higher amount of polyphenols as they have been under more stress from nature than fruit and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides etc.

Soluble Fiber
In the NHANES study, subjects followed for more than 19 years with the highest quartile of dietary soluble fiber intake had a 15% lower risk of heart disease and had a 10% lower risk of cardiovascular events. Soluble fiber binds bile acids or cholesterol; upregulates LDL receptors in the liver; increases clearance of LDL.

Cold-water, Fatty Fish
Cold-water, fatty fish are an excellent source omega-3 fats which have several cardiovascular benefits. An analysis of randomized trials since 2003 suggests that regular fish consumption or consumption of fish oil would reduce total mortality or deaths from all cause by 17%. Statin drugs only reduce total mortality by 15%, and even then, only in certain populations……hhmm.

LIFESTYLE:

Manage your stress levels – include breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, exercise, country walks in to your daily programme. In can just be a time out where you gather yourself, get present and engage in the process – whatever it is. I think it is easy to go through the usual routine in an almost unconscious way – sit back, right now, take a breath, acknowledge what’s going on, give yourself a pat on the back, smile and continue. Feel better?

SLEEP
Chronic sleep deprivation really is contributing to the modern disease epidemic. It has been associated with weight gain, insulin resistance, increased appetite and caloric intake, overconsumption of highly palatable and rewarding food, decreased energy expenditure and a reduced likelihood of sticking with healthy lifestyle behaviors. Sleep duration and quality are inversely associated with blood pressure in epidemiological studies, and high blood pressure is one of the strongest independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Get to sleep earlier!!

EXERCISE:

I think we should exercise every day. What are you currently doing on a weekly basis? What can you do to increase this amount? Exercise with a friend? Go for a walk? Join an exercise class?Do not underestimate how important exercise is in health, well being and longevity.

SUMMARY
There are some simple tips here that I hope you feel you can easily bring in to your lifestyle. I am going to be writing a post soon about motivation. Let’s make 2014 the year we achieve our health and fitness dreams. I would love to hear about all of your goals for 2014. Perhaps the talks that will be up and running at Prime Health in the new year can be used to support these goals? You already know the importance of a community and being with like minded individuals to achieve success and live a longer, healthier life!

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