You have my heart

Tonight my boyfriend, always trying to get me to expand my horizons, is attempting to make me watch ‘Legends of the Fall’. If you know me, you know that I am not exactly a movie buff, especially when it comes to movies made before 1999. But this flick that Ryan has forced upon me has led to some thoughts which are now the the foundation for your latest nugget.

In the movie there is a stress placed upon the Native American Indian concept which states that the heart carries the soul. This got me questioning: why the heart? In our society, and in history for that matter, there is much emphasis placed on the literal and the figurative heart. It has been the basis of epic stories of love and war, touching poems, and passionate music. Granted the heart is an organ vital to life, but so are many other organs, enzymes, and glands. And I don’t recall anybody reciting “without you my helicases would cease to function.” Far less romantic sounding I guess, but I think I’ve figured out why. The heart is the only organ which, if destroyed, will take your life in seconds. It is the only organ which feeds the other organs the oxygen needed to survive. It is the only organ of which we are totally aware. We can feel it. We feel it beat faster and harder when we are nervous. We feel it sink into our stomachs when we become frightened. We feel it beat out of our chests when we see the person we love. You can hear and feel the heart of another when you are close to somebody you love. When your soul is impacted and emotions arise, it is the heart that responds. So, it was not unreasonable for those responsible for the great works of our history to use the figurative image of this organ to symbolize all that it vital to passion, love, and life. It is only logical to believe that, just maybe, the heart carries much more than blood. It would only be responsible, then, to ensure that this organ of such vast importance is in pitch perfect shape right? So how are you going to do it??? Luckily, you have me. Here are 10 ways to improve heart health

1) Go for a run: Yeah I know you’re tired of hearing it. Im even tired of trying to force myself to do it. But by revving up your heart rate you strengthen the muscle with which you trust your life.

2) Put a little E in your life!: If you read my previous blog about vitamin E, you know Im a huge advocate. It can act as a natural and mild blood thinner and could contribute to less plaque that will eventually cause clotting. The build up that does accumulate can cause heart disease and contribute to the hardening of the business that needs to stay lubed and elastic: your arteries.

3) Go fish: Eating fish such as cod or salmon 3-4 times a week can supply enough of the essential fatty acids such as omega-3 to balance out your lipoproteins. The objective is to lower LDL and increase HDL. It is thought that HDL can even help remove the unwanted build up from passages in the heart.

4) Throw some A in the mix: The carotenoid family of veggies such as the reds, oranges, and yellows, all contain the precursor needed for your body to make vitamin A. It can bind to LDL and inhibit it’s ability to bind to the walls of your arteries.

5) Magnesium: Magnesium helps regulate your heart’s rhythm. Without it your heart could spasm and just get a little wakky. And guess what? If your heart has a steady rhythm to it, it can better supply you with a nice even flow of the good stuff. It can also help control angina

6) Thicken your plate: Viscous fiber such as okra and oatmeal can reduce cholesterol levels by interfering with absorption. This can lead to a decreased amount of cholesterol available to build up in the heart.

7) Cheers!: While red wine is still advocated for heart health due to its other phytochemicals such as resveratrol, studies are now saying that any alcoholic beverage can have heart benefits. Two a day for men and one a day for women. No that’s not sexist, and it’s not even based on weight! Women have a less active dehydrogenase, the enzyme needed to process alcohol.

8) Weigh your options: You’ve been under a rock if you haven’t heard that heart disease is the number one cause of death in America. How can one prevent it? Well… in addition to efforts to quit smoking, decreasing the amount of dietary saturated fat is a great start. Sat Fats (a little industry lingo for you) will increase levels of LDL and lead to lots of plaque…Ew. With every meal you’re given choice. Ask yourself, ‘is this meal high in grease and grossness?’ If the answer is yes, I’m sure there is a better menu option. And for those of you who think you have time before you have to worry about these things, think again. New studies are finding that plaque build up can start as early as 8 years old. Think back to all of those happy meals… Im sure we all have some making up to do.

9) Mince a little garlic: It has been known to help normalize high blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.

10) B-lieve you can make a difference in your future heart health: Yeah, Im a dork…. but seriously, amp up the B-vitamins. Over doing it on these water soluble vitamins is almost (almost…) impossible. Together they can improve cholesterol levels and prevent atherosclerosis. They are found together in many foods or in a B vitamin complex.

Food sources you ask?

 

  • Eat grain and breads that are dense. They often times contain high amounts of viscous fiber as well as vitamin E.
  • Fish!
  • Oats
  • Nuts. They contain high levels of vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids
  • Veggies, colorful ones! High fiber, high antioxidants- you cant go wrong

All in all, the full spectrum of heart health is only found in the synergistic relationship within lifestyle, diet, exercise. But always remember that this little guy beating away in your chest is working hard to pump 5 quarts of blood with every beat. It’s working hard to deliver much needed oxygen to every nook and cranny of your body. Making sure it’s healthy is the least you can do for the little muscle making sure you have life …and soul.

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