Improve Your Heart Health
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. It is also found in foods from animal sources, like beef, poultry and full-fat dairy products. While your body needs some cholesterol to function properly, produce hormones, vitamin D and the bile acids that help digest fat, too much cholesterol can lead to the development of health problems, such as heart disease.
It’s also important to remember that there are 2 types of cholesterol — the “bad” kind (LDL) and the “good” kind (HDL). LDL cholesterol contributes to thick plaque that can build up in the arteries making them narrow or clog resulting in heart attack or stroke. HDL is considered the good cholesterol because it helps to remove LDL from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and passed from the body. Too much LDL (bad) cholesterol or not enough HDL (good) cholesterol can put you at risk for heart attack, stroke or heart disease, which remains the number one cause of death in the U.S.
Your body, specifically the liver, produces all of the necessary cholesterol and then circulates it through the bloodstream. It’s important to avoid a diet high in saturated and trans fats, as this can trigger your liver to produce more cholesterol and increase health risks.
10 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health
ADD COLORFUL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES TO EACH MEAL
Fruits and vegetables are a prime source of nutrients beneficial to the whole body and key for heart health, and the vibrant colors make the plate look more appetizing.
DOWNSIZE YOUR PLATE
Curb unhealthy eating habits, which can impact heart health, by downsizing your plate. Using a smaller plate will help you with portion control and help you avoid overeating caused by feeling the need to clean your plate
ASSIGN ONE DAY TO MENU PLAN
Control your meals and cook at home and incorporate more heart-healthy recipes that are low in fat and contain beneficial veggies, fruits, and proteins. This empowers you to know the ingredients going into your meals, and will limit eating out!
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days per week to reduce “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol by lowering or maintaining a healthy weight. Physical activity is key in preventing heart disease and improving overall cardiovascular health.
SWAP YOUR COOKING OIL
Corn oil is not only more effective in helping to lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil, it is also among the most versatile oils in the kitchen. Its neutral taste complements the flavors of foods, making it ideal for baking, and grilling
UP YOUR FIBER INTAKE
Increasing soluble fiber intake by 5-10 grams each day by eating foods like dried beans, oats and barley may help reduce “bad” cholesterol.
LIMIT FOODS HIGH IN SATURATED FATS TO HELP REDUCE CHOLESTEROL When preparing food for you and your family, corn oil is a heart healthy option that supports a diet low in saturated fat. Also know – if it’s in a can, or delivered, it’s not likely a good option for dinner
SWAP OUT BEEF FOR FATTY FISH AT LEAST 2X/WK
Consuming fish rich in omega-3s may help lower your blood cholesterol level resulting in a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
GET AT LEAST 6-8 HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT
Those who are sleep deprived have slower metabolism and more difficulty losing weight. Individuals with higher body weights may have higher cholesterol resulting in being more at-risk for heart disease.
Nuts are a great source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats when eaten in moderation. Those who eat nuts four times per week may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
The B vitamins, such as thiamine, riboflavin, B6, B12, and folic acid (folate) help the body with the health of red blood cells, nerves, the heart, and the brain. Anemia, memory loss, fatigue, weakness, and digestive problems are signs of low B vitamins. These vitamins can be found in fish, meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. B vitamins are essential, which means that the body requires them to work properly.
All B vitamins are important; however, Vitamin B12 stands out. It helps reduce memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, slow aging, and to boost mood, energy, concentration, mental function, and the immune system. It is also used for heart disease, clogged arteries and decreasing the risk of re-clogging arteries after surgery, high triglyceride levels, lowering high homocysteine levels (which may contribute to heart disease), male infertility, diabetes, diabetic nerve damage, nerve damage in the hands or feet, sleep disorders, depression, mental disorders, schizophrenia, weak bones (osteoporosis), swollen tendons, AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, asthma, allergies, a skin disease called vitiligo, and skin infections. Prior to starting a regimen of vitamin supplements consult with your physician.
Here’s complete list and how they affect you:
Vitamin Low levels Source
|B12 (cobalamin)||Weakness, tired, constipation, depression||Beef liver, clams|
|B6 (pyridoxine)||Depression, confusion, scaly cracked lips||Chick peas, tuna, beef liver, potatoes, oatmeal, avocados, poultry|
|B1 (thiamin)||Weakness, fatigue, brain damage||Rice, trout, black beans|
|B2 (riboflavin)||Liver damage, damage to nervous system||Beef liver, milk, yogurt|
|B3 (niacin)||Helps digestive system, Improve nerve conduction, helps skin||Milk, eggs, rice, fish|
|B7 (biotin)||Low levels cause skin rash, hair loss, elevated cholesterol, heart problems||Cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas, soy flower, cereal, yeast|
|Folic Acid (folate)||Reduces incidence of birth defects – important to take during pregnancy||Spinach, black-eyed peas|