Healthy Heart: Risk factors,food,diet and lifestyle to prevent heart problems
Do you want a healthy heart ? Start by checking what you bring to the table! In fact, among the main risk factors of heart disease there are overweight and obesity , high cholesterol and hypertension: all dangers from which you can protect yourself with a balanced diet.
Following are some healthy eating tips , because eating well is one of the main allies of health and can make your heart healthy..
Not only that, to keep your heart healthy , prevention is essential by adopting a healthy lifestyle to reduce heart disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO). respecting some simple rules can reduce the probability of cardiovascular diseases by 50% .
Everyone has their own cardiovascular risk. Some are modifiable (sedentariness, smoking, etc.) others not (advanced age, sex, familiarity with cardiovascular diseases).
Heart problems and heart attacks are for men ? The data deny it: infarction in women is unfortunately not so rare. According to estimates by the Epidemiological and Cardiovascular Observatory and the National Institute of Health , around 150,000 women between the ages of 50 and 60 are affected by heart disease every year.
Heart health: risk factors
Overweight and obesity
Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease , so keep your weight under control is an important factor in prevention . But how to understand if our weight is really in excess?
An easy and practical indicator for all to measure is the abdominal circumference.
Values greater than 94 cm in men and 80 cm in women are already sufficient to raise the cardiovascular risk to “moderate”.
Overweight and obesity are enemies of your heart’s health. Abdominal fat in particular is one of the main risk factors.
If you have bacon, you are more exposed to the danger of suffering from cardiovascular disorders. “Visceral fat – explains nutritionists – is the most associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and diabetes.
For this it is important to follow a balanced diet to eliminate the accumulation of fat on the belly . Especially if you have high cholesterol.
If you want to understand if your weight is not normal, you will also be helped by the BMI , the body mass index, which is a value that puts weight and height in relation to determining whether you are normal weight, overweight or in the obesity range.
High cholesterol values in the blood help accelerate cardiovascular , cerebral and renal aging processes , so it is important to keep it under control.
In some cases the increase in cholesterol is linked to genetic / family factors and only a pharmacological therapy, followed under strict medical supervision, helps to reduce it, but in the absence of pathologies an effective weapon of prevention is to follow a poor diet of those foods with higher cholesterol content.
“The foods richest in cholesterol – says Luca Piretta – are seasoned cheeses, cream, eggs, the visible fats of meat and ham. Even saturated fats like those present in fries increase cholesterol circulating in the blood ”.
Menopause and diabetes enemies of the healthy heart
Menopause can have a diabetogenic effect, in the sense that it increases the chances of developing diabetes, because the drop in estrogen can change the distribution of fat , accumulating it mainly in the abdominal area, and change it in its composition: fatty acids are released and the amount of triglycerides, insulin and glucose present in the blood.
These consequences of menopause can be counteracted by light physical activity, such as walking, which improves insulin sensitivity, counteracts the increase in fat mass and balances cholesterol.
Stress is one of the first enemies for your health. According to experts, even a single week of vacation is enough to recharge your heart.
Detaching from the daily routine means decreasing the risk factors that can lead to anxiety and stress. Good habit is then to find a space for you every day, to relax, dedicate yourself to positive thoughts and to preserve your heart.
Remember that relaxing is not a waste of time, but a real exercise for your health!
Quitting smoking has immediate benefits on your heart’s health because it leads to a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate.
According to experts, the risk of heart attack would decrease by 50% after a year of abstinence from smoking .
A result to consider carefully to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Rules to be adopted to have a healthy heart
Along with a balanced diet, constant movement and the adoption of healthy habits such as not smoking , especially if you are not very young, it is essential to periodically screen cardiac function , or undergo a series of tests to try to to prevent diseases related to the cardiovascular system.
Exams to be done to prevent heart disease
The first examination to be done is the cardiological examination : thanks to this, the cardiologist can identify possible heart murmurs or cardiac arrhythmias .
The cardiologist also checks that parameters such as maximum and minimum blood pressureare normal . The cardiological examination is followed by laboratory tests, useful for monitoring health status in patients with already diagnosed heart problems.
The electrocardiogram (ECG) serves instead to graphically trace the cardiac activity to exclude the risk of pathologies such as arrhythmias and fibrillations.
Then follows the exercise test (to monitor the heart’s response to an average prolonged physical effort).
Among the other tests, there is the echocardiogram (useful for verifying the status of the cardiac musculature and describing the patient’s risk level with respect to a possible heart failure). Instead the cardiac echocolordoppler provides a complete spectrum of the distribution and velocity of blood flow in both aortic and venous cavities.
These tests for heart health play a crucial role in the fight against cardiovascular diseases, helping you in prevention and treatment
To have a healthy heart, do sport
Physical activity allows the reduction of body weight and can also improve the ratio between lean mass and fat mass, helping to keep diseases such as diabetes and hypertension away.
Practicing sports on a constant basis also has another important advantage, that of being able to keep hypercholesterolemia under control .
The moderate but continuous exercise produces in fact a better ratio between HDL (” good cholesterol “) and LDL (” bad cholesterol “), managing to raise the HDL parameters.
For a healthy heart, train the heart muscle
The cardio work is good for health of your heart and is a great ally to improve stamina.
A cardio exercise increases the heart rate and accelerates breathing. To do this it is enough to stress the main muscle groups, for example arms and legs, because when the important muscles work they need oxygen and this request increases the rhythm of the cardiorespiratory system: so activities like walking, exercise bikes, swimming, etc. are good.
Even a light physical activity, done regularly, protects your heart from the risk of getting sick.
For example, walking at least 30 minutes a day, outdoors (avoiding hot hours), is an excellent form of movement, also suitable for older and less sporty people.
For those with walking problems or simply being lazy, the same result can be achieved with 20-30 minutes of exercise bikes a day.
If you are not overweight, aerobic disciplines are also good , which to the rhythm of music improve your endurance and make your heart stronger.
For those who love the gym , the most suitable exercises are the moderate intensity aerobic ones (walking, exercise bikes, gymnastics, aqua gym, swimming) while it is important to avoid power exercises (weight lifting) or high intensity (spinning).
Aerobics, yoga and zumba (always without excesses) can bring significant benefits: moderate physical effort, but constant over time (2-3 times a week), allows the heart to work better and modulate cardiac output .
This allows a better vascularization and an optimal flow of oxygen to the peripheral tissues .
Foods for a healthy heart
Omega 3 is good for the heart
The omega-3 are “good” fats that help you keep tabs on cholesterol levels in the blood and have a reduced-calorie, so you also give a hand to maintain your normal weight . Where to find them?
Among the foods that are richer : salmon, tuna, sardines, but also sesame, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
The fish , especially the blue as anchovies , as well as salmon, are sources of omega-3polyunsaturated fatty acids that counteract the harmful effects of free radicals and slows down cell aging, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, in particular of the bad one, help prevent cardiovascular disease and cardiac arrhythmias .
The soybean is a rich food of vegetable protein, phytoestrogens , which help you to prevent some forms of cancer, and phytosterols that reduce cholesterol and therefore give you a hand to protect the health of your heart and to prevent cardiovascular disease.
You can introduce soy into your diet by consuming, for example, derivatives such as soy drinks, yogurt or tofu or using it as a base for the preparation of many recipes, such as those proposed by Melarossa.
Grant yourself every so often a sweet chocolate- based cuddle is not only good for your mood, but also for your heart! Cocoa is rich in antioxidants that help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol .
In particular, cocoa beans contain polyphenols , specifically flavonoids such as epicatechin, which protect cells from free radicals and inflammation.
To get the most out of the positive effects of chocolate, use dark chocolate : it’s less fat and richer in antioxidants, so perfect for a healthy heart.
Foods rich in antioxidants and with antithrombotic action
For the health of your heart, bring to the table at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, rich in antioxidants, and even some foods with antithrombotic action, which have the ability to improve blood circulation and keep cholesterol and triglycerides under control .
Among the foods with antithrombotic action there are:
Diet for a healthy heart
The diet that takes care of the heart is a balanced diet, with a diet so composed:
- 12-15% from proteins
- 30% from lipids
- 55-60% from carbohydrates
- 20–25 grams of fiber every day.
The diet must also be low in sodium, free of alcohol and with the limitation of caffeine and the foods that contain it.
It is good to prefer whole grain products (rich in fiber), legumes, fish, with a high content of omega 3 (especially blue fish) , and don’t forget the 5 portions a day of fruit and vegetables, seasoned, the latter, strictly with raw extra virgin olive oil .
It is also better to avoid animal fats as much as possible , or choose lean meats, removing fat and skin. Also the consumption of aged cheeses should be limited as they are rich in sodium.
L ‘ hydration , finally, remains an important chapter of diet that protects heart health : l’ water with low sodium content is preferred over all others.
Don’t skip breakfast
The breakfast is not only important because it assures you the energy you need to start your day on the right foot (should make the 20-30% of daily calories), but also because it helps you keep your heart healthy .
“Many studies – confirms Luca Piretta – reveal that people who skip breakfast tend to have a higher incidence of obesity and are more at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease “. Add foods such as cereals and fruit to your breakfast to ensure a good dose of carbohydrates and fiber.
For a healthy heart: follow the Mediterranean diet
Many studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial diet for the heart, because it protects you from the risk of heart attack and hypertension .
Find out all you need to know about the Mediterranean diet .
The data reported in a meta-analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 show that getting closer to the Mediterranean diet means decreasing global mortality by 9%, that of cardiovascular origin by 9%, that of tumor origin by 7%.
For this reason, explains Piretta, for a healthy heart it is important to ” increase the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and reduce animal fats and refined sugars”.
Do not overdo it with salt
Salt is one of the main causes of the ever-increasing incidence of cardiovascular diseases. We tend to consume more salt than the World Health Organization recommends , either by adding it to the foods we cook , or by eating in large quantities the foods that already contain it, such as aged cheeses or canned foods .
To keep your heart healthy , however, it is important to limit salt consumption. How to do? Help can come from spices , which add flavor and aroma to your dishes in a more genuine way and which are also very rich in beneficial properties.
What’s more, many spices such as turmeric or saffron, also have the ability to speed up the metabolism and thus help you lose weight faster if you are on a diet.
Fats yes, but good ones
Fats are a fundamental component of a balanced diet , in which they should represent 30% of the total calories ingested . This is because they are essential to the proper functioning of our body.
“All cells are coated with fat – explains nutritionists -. Fats carry some fat-soluble vitamins such as A, DE and K. Many anti-inflammatory molecules are synthesized by our cells from fats “.
But, to safeguard your health and protect your heart, you must be careful to favor good fats and limit the consumption of bad fats . How to recognize them?
“Bad fats are saturated fats and cholesterol and are found mainly in cheeses and sausages. But they are not foods to be banished completely, but they must be eaten in moderation. Instead, good fats are found in fish and olive oil and their consumption is recommended for those suffering from hypercholesterolemia and diabetes ”.
A healthy diet that contains fat in the recommended amount is the passport to a healthy and long-lived heart .