There are countless articles written about how to avoid this particular health problem but I thought you might be more interested in some unusual top ten health tips instead.
This health problem in question (and highlighted in the month of September) is the risk of heart disease and you might not have heard of some of these ways to avoid heart disease, or a heart attack.
1. DONATE BLOOD
It is altruistic and makes you feel good to give blood but it can improve your heart health. “Blood viscosity” is one of the most important, but least understood, factors in cardiovascular health and how thick and sticky your blood is (or how much friction your blood creates moving through the blood vessels) will determine how much abrasion and damage it does to the lining cells of your arteries. The best way to reduce your blood viscosity is to give some blood regularly. Blood donations are always needed but if you cannot give for any reason, you can still reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your blood viscosity by taking a high quality fish oil. Find out more here.
2. CONSUME MILLED CHIA SEEDS
A daily dose of 25 grams of milled chia seed for seven weeks has been associated with 138% increases in levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and 30% increases in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels, according to data presented in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Our bodies are unable to make the essential fatty acid ALA omega-3 for good heart health so it must be consumed. Apart from chia seeds, other good sources include flaxseed, soybeans, walnuts and olive oil.
3. AVOID PFOAs
A chemical known as PFOA and found in so many common household products, such as carpeting, non-stick cookware, paint and much more, has been linked to heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease according to researcher Anoop Shankar, MD, PhD, MPH. See study here.
4. INCLUDE LOTS OF LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES IN YOUR DAILY DIET
Leafy greens are so good for heart health because of nitrates. Interestingly since the 19th century, nitrates have been administered to patients with angina to dilate their arteries and increase blood flow. How much better to have a diet rich in leafy greens to provide the vascular benefits of high levels of dietary nitrate as a preventative? You can read more here.
5. TEST FOR MAGNESIUM LEVELS
Magnesium could save your life if you take it within 3 hours of having a heart attack. But you can also take it to prevent heart disease in the first place. For more information go here and our own blog post.
6. EAT CRANBERRIES
Cranberries are one of the most powerful berries around. You may know that cranberry juice is great for your bladder and urinary tract. But cranberries are also very beneficial for your vascular system too, lowering the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and dramatically lowering adhesion molecule markers as well. There are also additional protective effects for heart health. Like all berries, cranberries are a superfood.
7. DENTAL HEALTH
At the start of the 20th century, the number one cause of heart disease was dental abscesses and even today, poor dental health in the form of gum infections can be a factor. A specific bacteria known as Streptococcus gordonii can enter the blood stream and increase the risk of dangerous blood clotting. For more information, read here.
8. ORGANIC CHOCOLATE
One of the most delicious ways to protect your heart is through eating a few blocks of organic chocolate every day. As well as therapeutic benefits, eating dark chocolate can lead to improvements in blood pressure, blood vessel endothelial function and a dip in insulin levels. A study by the National Institutes of Health
found that eating dark chocolate five or more times a week led to a 57% reduced risk of coronary disease. We also have our own post on all the health benefits of chocolate.
The growing consumer awareness of the health benefits of garlic, mostly in terms of cardiovascular and immune system health, has contributed to the growth of the supplements industry as many seek the benefits of garlic without the odors that accompany the fresh bulb. A recent study
reporting on the effects of aged garlic extracts for reducing hypertension added to the body of science supporting the potential cardiovascular benefits of garlic.
10. VITAMIN D
Researchers believe that people who live in sunny places may have a lower risk of stroke and other serious conditions while a previous study
suggested salmon, eggs, tuna, and other vitamin D-rich foods could help protect against stroke and memory loss. Even milder degrees of vitamin D deficiency are now understood to be one of the causes of a vast array of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Asking the body to deal with such diseases without adequate vitamin D is like asking a fighter to enter battle with one hand tied behind his back. Vitamin D
from sun exposure is the BEST way to optimize your vitamin D levels by exposing a large amount of your skin until it turns the lightest shade of pink, as near to solar noon as possible. If necessary, a vitamin D3 supplement can be taken orally. Research published by Grassroots Health shows the average adult needs to take 8,000 IUs of vitamin D per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which they believe is the absolute minimum for disease prevention, before dropping down to a maintenance dosage.
To round off our 10 tips, here are Dr Mercola's basic recommendations for avoiding serious conditions including heart disease:
- Limit fructose to less than 25 grams per day. Ideally, 15 grams per day as you're likely consuming 'hidden' fructose if you eat even small amounts of processed foods or sweetened beverages
- Limit or eliminate all processed foods
- Eliminate all gluten, and highly allergenic foods from your diet
- Eat organic foods whenever possible, preferably locally-grown
- Eat at least one-third of your food uncooked (raw), or as much as you can manage
- Increase the amount of fresh vegetables in your diet
- Avoid artificial sweeteners of all kinds
- Swap all trans fats (vegetable oils, margarine etc) for healthful fats like raw butter or coconut oil
- To re-balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, take a high-quality omega-3 supplement, such as krill oil, and reduce your consumption of processed omega-6 fats from vegetable oils (trans fats)
- Drink plenty of pure water
- Optimize your vitamin D levels, either through appropriate sun exposure, a safe tanning bed, or as last resort an oral vitamin D3 supplement
Protect your own heart health this September and every other month by following at least some of these suggestions.