Happy Heart month!
Happy Heart month! February isn’t just the month of love and hearts because of Valentine’s day, but it is officially the American Heart Month. For good reason we should think of our heart, not just because Disney or Roxette says so, but because the vitality of our heart is directly related to our overall health.
According to the CDC, Heart disease is still the number one cause of death within the United States; claiming 635,260 lives in 2016. Risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity..etc, can chip away at the vitality of our heart to impact our health. These same risk factors of heart disease not only can lead to stroke or death, but can increase the likelihood of other diseases such as cancer and alzheimer’s.
So, how do you go about taking care of your heart?
Focus on the risk factors! Most of the risk factors have simple solutions. Diabetes – manage your blood sugar levels with proper diet and exercise (more to come on this subject in the future). Smoking – don’t smoke. Obesity – manage with proper diet and exercise. But what about high blood pressure?
How do you care for your heart to lower your blood pressure?
1. Eat Pro-Cardiovascular Foods
1. Raw Almonds
Raw almonds contain antioxidants and helps to balance out cholesterol levels. Antioxidants help to prevent oxidative stress which can lead to plaquing of cholesterol within the blood vessel walls (arteriosclerosis)
2. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains a phytochemical that helps to dilate the blood vessels (vasodilation) to improve blood flow.
3. Coconut Water
Other than a great supply of good fats, coconut water is a great source of potassium (helps to balance out sodium levels) and other antioxidants. Other cardiovascular protective properties include balancing out cholesterol levels. All of these properties are what help coconut water to protect your cardiovascular health and lower your blood pressure.
4. Raw Cacao
Flavonols of cacao act give it its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and vasodilation. Cacao has been shown to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive adults by as much as 3 mmHg to 4 mmHg.
Turmeric has a plethora of cardiovascular protective properties; everything from anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-plaquing, to balancing out cholesterol levels.
6. Raw Garlic
Garlic helps to balance out cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure (as much as 3.75 mmHg to 16 mmHg!) through vasodilation
3. Decrease Caffeine Intake
Caffeine has been shown to cause short spikes in blood pressure by blocking vasodilation. So considering drinking one less cup of joe or cut it out completely if you can.
4. Aerobic and Resistance Exercises
Aerobic and Resistance Exercises. A professor of exercise biology at UC Davis used to always say, “Bigger hearts, More blood, less stress”. Exercise causes all 3 effects to happen overtime. Most people think that the best way to manage your heart health is through aerobic exercise, but resistance training (weightlifting) has been shown to be more effective than aerobic in managing blood sugar levels. A combination of the both are more effective together than by themselves in improving your health.
5. Reduce alcohol intake
Having a good time with too much alcohol has been shown to raise blood pressure.
6. Good posture
Making sure that you have your head on straight not only improves your posture, but can lower your blood pressure by an average of 17 mmHg without medications! Aligning the upper neck through chiropractic (specifically NUCCA) helps to improve the function of neurological centers and nerves that have an effect on the cardiovascular system.