Keeping a Healthy Heart
Ceileigh McKersie: Tips to keeping your heart healthy.
Myocardial infarction (MI), the medical term for a heart attack, occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to the heart muscle. The heart muscle becomes ‘starved’ of oxygen, resulting in tissue death and permanent heart damage.
How to Decrease your risk of a heart attack?
Lower your risk of a heart attack by monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Furthermore, reducing your weight, knowing your family history of heart attacks, increasing your exercise levels, monitoring your glucose levels and stopping smoking will all lower your risk of having a heart attack.
A healthy blood pressure level is 120/80mmHg and cholesterol level is <5mmol.L. Your Doctor or a Biokineticist can measure this for you.
How to Make your Heart Healthier?
The first step to lower cholesterol starts with a lifestyle change. Implementing and sticking with these simple changes may be enough to lower cholesterol without medication!
Increase your consumption of low fat and high-fiber foods to lower cholesterol levels. Reduce your consumption of high cholesterol foods.
High cholesterol foods are mainly found in:
All animal products such as egg yolk, red meat, red poultry, and milk products.
Processed and prepared foods such as cookies, pastries, muffins and cakes.
Deep fried foods (most take away foods e.g. pizza, Chinese, chips, burgers etc)
See list of cholesterol high foods
REDUCE or eliminate these foods from your diet.
The following tips will help you to lower your cholesterol naturally:
Increase your fibre intake by:
• Eating between 2-3 fresh fruits a day (skin contains the most fibre)
• Eating raw vegetables
• Eating spinach or broccoli every day
• Eating 3-4 servings of vegetables a day (1 serving=1 cup)
• Add oat bran to your breakfast cereal
• Eat oats for breakfast everyday
• Baked beans
Drink a lot of water and green tea. Water and green tea increases your metabolism of fats.
Take a calcium (and magnesium supplement daily e.g. dolomite). Calcium aids the digestion and excretion of fats.
Avoid vegetable oils. Replace bad oils with 3 servings per day of the following good fats: (Each portion is equivalent to one serving)
• One finger of avocado
• One teaspoon of olive oil
• One teaspoon of peanut butter
• Handful of nuts
Choose low fat dairy options (2 servings per day)
• Fat free yoghurt (also a good substitute for salad dressings)
• Fat free/skim milk
• Try avoid cheeses and butter-healthier choices: feta/mozzarella
• Cottage cheese (low fat / fat free)
Avoid red meats. Try to eat mainly chicken breast or fish as much as possible. Choose leaner cuts of red meat if you have to eat red meat, but keep portions small.
In order to decrease your blood pressure and cholesterol you need to increase and strengthen your heart by increasing the amount of exercise you do. You should aim to do at least 30-40min of exercise a day. If you can not do 30-40min at a time break it up into 10 min slots of exercise e.g: climbing the stairs, walking around the office block, walking to the shops etc.
Exercise helps to lower your blood pressure because it strengthens your heart. When you exercise your heart rate increases thereby helping to clear your arteries passageways (which have been lined with cholesterol) thereby increasing your blood pressure.
• If you smoke-quit today!
• Drink alcohol in moderation.
• Choose red wine instead of white wine when out.