Who has Cardiovascular and Metabolic Issues?
Cardiovascular and metabolic disorders are the most common age-related chronic diseases amongst Australian and New Zealand ‘baby boomers’. However, metabolic conditions are seen from the teenage years onwards. Together with obesity, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and type 2 diabetes severely affect millions.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Australia and New Zealand, accounting for up to 30% of all deaths. Although this chronic health condition affects a large number of the population, the good news is that CVD is preventable. Now is the time to look after your heart and stay healthy for the future
Do you have high cholesterol?
High levels of circulating cholesterol can lead to a narrowing of the arteries by fatty plaque deposits (known as atherosclerosis). Having these fatty plaques in your body increases your risk of blood pressure, heart attack and/or stroke, as well as other chronic diseases.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (of Cholesterol)
There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. HDL is essentially the ‘good’ form of cholesterol that travels from your cells to the liver where it is processed and removed from the body. LDL is the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol that travels from the liver, through your arteries to your periphery. It is the LDL form of cholesterol that is most likely to narrow your arteries and cause heart disease.
How healthy is your heart?
- Do you have high blood pressure? Hypertension is having blood pressure above – 130/85 mmHg
- Do you have high cholesterol? Having high triglycerides (above1.69 mmol/litre) and low HDL (below 1.04 mmol/litre in men and below 1.29 mmol/litre in women)
- Are you taking heart, cholesterol or blood pressure medication?
- Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family?
- Are you overweight? Do you have abdominal obesity (or a waist circumference, greater than 102 cm in men, and greater than 88 cm in women)
- Do you smoke?
- Do you do too little exercise?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are welcome to get you heart health back on track, call Sue at Handcrafted Health who can help you and your heart to be as healthy as possible
So, What Foods are Good for Heart Health?
Eating a balanced diet can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. A Mediterranean Diet, comprised of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil and garlic, has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol levels and reduce high LDL levels.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Eat a minimum of 3 cups of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit every day. Vegetables and fruits are very high in nutrients and beneficial dietary fibre. This may reduce the risk of developing many types of chronic disease, including heart disease.
- Eat a handful of nuts and seeds and up to 2 tablespoons of healthy oils daily. ‘Good fats’ from foods such as fish, nuts, seeds and cold-pressed vegetable oils (e.g. olive oil) are an important part of a healthy diet. Remember, these dietary fats are especially good for your heart and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Include protein-rich foods in each meal or snack. Protein is essential for health, so make sure you choose good protein sources such as free-range chicken breast, fish, tofu, eggs and legumes with every meal.
- Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of pure water daily. Aim to substitute soft drinks, fruit juices, cordials and other sweetened drinks with water or herbal teas.
- Limit alcohol consumption – try for a few alcohol-free days during the week
Make Sure You Move
- Enjoy daily movement and exercise: Being active every day shouldn’t be seen as a chore.
- Regular exercise helps reduce excess weight and improves body composition (e.g. helps improve muscle mass), as well as benefits mood and overall health.
- Find ways to be active for 30 minutes or more on most days.
Make Sure You Stress Less
Stress strongly affects every system in your body, especially your heart! Long-term or poorly managed stress can have serious health consequences.
- Relax and have fun: Manage your stress by taking time out each day to relax and do something you enjoy.
- Stress management techniques, such as yoga, and meditation can help reduce stress levels.
Natural Supplements to Help Support Heart Health
There are some specific natural supplements that can help keep your heart in top shape. These may include:
- Coenzyme Q10: (CoQ10) maintains optimal energy levels and reduces oxidative stress caused by free radical damage, which is a driving factor of cardiovascular disease. CoQ10 can also help reduce blood pressure and is an important supplement if you are currently taking cholesterol-lowering medication.
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids: fish oil, krill oil and algal oil are valuable sources, which have been shown to lower triglyceride levels and improve the ratio of HDL vs. LDL cholesterol. They are also well known for their anti-inflammatory effects – all of which are beneficial for cardiovascular health.
- Taurine is an amino acid that works together with magnesium to support the health of the heart and cardiovascular system. It also has a positive effect on the nervous system and therefore may assist with stress-induced high blood pressure.
- Magnesium: An essential mineral that is necessary for the health of muscles and the nervous system. It helps to relax the wall of the blood vessels, which can help to lower blood pressure.
- Hawthorn and Purple Sage: These herbs promote blood flow to the heart and are used in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western herbal medicine to support cardiovascular health.
- Vitamin E and specific citrus bioflavonoids have been shown to help balance cholesterol levels without the negative side effects of some cholesterol-lowering treatments. Both are potent antioxidants that help support cardiovascular health.
To find out of these herbs and supplements are right for your right now or for more on how to improve your heart health book an appointment online today with Sue at Handcrafted Health.