With over 20 years of experience in the holistic health and wellness field Nelson Narciso, DNM, is a holistic nutritionist, herbalist, Reiki practitioner and member of the Examining Board of Natural Medicine Practitioners and the Canadian Society for Orthomolecular Medicine. Nelson is a well-respected writer, consultant and educator on Natural Health Product’s as well as a frequent radio and television guest.
Here are his key tips on how to keep your ticker ticking:
1) Eat more fruit and veggies
Researchers have shown that for every 1 serving of a day increase of fruits or vegetables there’s a subsequent 4 percent drop in coronary heart disease. Combine the two together and increase servings by more than one a day and one can expect even more dramatic results. Researchers at Oxford University published a study showing that consuming at least 8 portions of fruits and vegetables a day had a 22 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. Remember to vary your fruit choices and choose fruits and vegetables that reflect a rainbow of colours. These colourful foods are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals all of which are heart friendly.
2) Choose the right types of fats
We now have evidence that healthy fats in fact support a healthy heart. Of particular importance are the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. These include fish, flax, chia, hemp, walnuts and dark leafy greens. Fish are an especially important source because they not only have the omega-3 fats alpha linolenic acid but they also possess the all-important EPA and DHA fats needed for optimal health in general and heart health in specific. Polar opposite to healthy fats are trans fats. These have been shown to dramatically raise the risk of heart disease. Avoid foods that say trans or hydrogenated fats and don’t just read the “nutrition facts table” but also read the ingredient list.
3) Minimize sugar
Sugar intake has been shown to increase several markers of heart disease. This may be in part due to the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which have been increasingly implicated in heart health especially for diabetics. Especially noteworthy is the fact that high fructose corn syrup is especially problematic in that it seems to have greater impact than does glucose.
4) Exercise regularly
Exercise was shown to lower levels of a blood marker known as C-reactive protein that have been linked to an elevated risk of heart disease. Exercise benefits the heart in numerous ways: strengthens heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, lowers bad LDL and raises good HDL cholesterol and helps with weight management.
5) Manage stress
Chronic stress may in fact predict the occurrence of heart disease. It’s not entirely clear what mechanism or mechanisms are involved in this association but nonetheless it is worth noting. Therefore it is prudent to manage stress and engage in stress reducing activities like yoga and Tai Chi. In fact both have been shown in research to benefit the heart.
6) Support with supplementation
Multivitamins – Men and women that use a multi have fewer heart attacks than those that don’t.
Antioxidants (i.e. vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene) – Prevention of atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries. Protects vascular endothelium – cells that line interior surface of blood vessels.
Fish oil – Lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel elasticity. Look for a blend of cold water, wild caught fish harvested using sustainable methods, processed through molecular distillation to remove unwanted contaminants and IFOS approved to verify purity and potency!
Vitamin D – Low levels were associated with increased risk of “heart failure, sudden cardiac death, stroke, overall cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular death.”
Vegetables and Fruits – Average daily intakes are well below recommended levels making supplementation with greens and berry powders worth considering. These products are also rich in antioxidants.
Whey Protein – May lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and elevate glutathione levels all of which are important to heart health!
Phytosterols – Lower LDL cholesterol, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine.
Ashwagandha – Reduces C-reactive protein levels.
Taurine – Has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and prevent cardiac arrhythmia.
Magnesium – Deficiency has been linked to vascular damage, atherosclerosis and hypertension. Magnesium has been shown to help prevent cardiac arrhythmia and lower blood pressure.
Folate and B12 – These vitamins have been shown to lower homocysteine levels, which is an amino acid that, when elevated, is a predictor of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Astaxanthin – Protects against cardiovascular oxidative stress and inflammation, lowers C-reactive protein and triglycerides and raises HDL cholesterol.
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