11 Jun 2019
Healthy Heart Programme
The Healthy Heart Program
What you need to know
As well as being preventative, all of this advice will help in the treatment of many of the conditions affecting the entire cardio-vascular system. Strokes, atherosclerosis, major circulatory problems, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and heart failure are the most common causes of death in the UK.
Recent thinking also suggests that high homocysteine is the major factor in heart disease and may be more of a risk than having high cholesterol levels. There are also links to heart disease via anti-inflammatory conditions caused by the parasite Chlamydia pneumonia and the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (also known to cause stomach ulcers).
Diabetics and people who are overweight are at an increased risk of developing heart disease as well as a variety other problems. Whatever the cause or reason, the fact is, in Britain heart disease kills around 140,000 people every year, with 90% of these deaths being totally preventable through adopting a more healthier lifestyle, mainly by improving the diet and taking regular exercise.
Scotland and Northern Ireland are by far the most dangerous places to live as far as heart and circulatory diseases are concerned and it was assumed that the cause was too much fat in the diet. We now know that this is not the true picture. Although the diet does get a bit more fatty as you go north, the real reason for the huge difference is the fact that the amount of fruit and vegetables in the average diet declines dramatically. Diet is therefore crucial to helping prevent heart and circulatory disease. Lifestyle is another major factor in determining the risk of developing heart disease, hence there are many common habits that can be changed to help prevent future problems.
Nutritional Supplements that could help
In addition to a high potency multivitamin and mineral once or twice daily there are many other supplements worth taking as a preventative particularly if you have a history of heart disease in your family.
Co-enzyme Q10 provide energy to the heart cells, antioxidant, lowers blood pressure
Vitamin E prevents oxidation of circulating fats and cholesterol
Fish oil supply omega-3 fatty acids which keep blood flowing freely
Magnesium helps heart muscles relax properly
Folic acid, Vits B6, B12, B2 7 keeps homocysteine levels down
L-Carnitine release energy from fat in heart cells
Other supplements that could help include:
Bioflavonoids (strengthen & protect blood vessels), Lycopene (carotenoid heart protector), Pine bark or Grapeseed extract (potent antioxidants - protect blood vessels), Selenium (antioxidant protection to the heart), Vitamin C (keeps blood vessels more flexible and can help reverse arterial blockages when combined with Lysine), Oat bran or beta-glucan (lowers cholesterol), Alpha-lipoic acid (potent antioxidant that enhances action of vitamins E, C and CoQ10).
Herbs that may help
Hawthorn strengthens heart muscle, improves circulation and lowers blood pressure
Garlic pills antioxidant, lowers cholesterol, homocysteine & blood pressure, improves circulation whole bulb or aged,
Other herbs include:
Ginkgo (improves circulation), Green tea (antioxidant), Butchers broom (circulatory tonic), Valerian (if under stress)
Dietary changes that may be beneficial
Diet plays a very important role and anyone wanting to avoid a heart attack should restrict certain foods and try to adopt a more Mediterranean style of eating.
Cut down on saturated fats - in all meat products, the skin of poultry and full-fat dairy products such as butter, cheese, cream and hard margarines. It is also important to avoid any foods and refined oils containing hydrogenated or trans fats. Hidden saturated fat is often found in burgers, pies, sausages, pastries, cakes and desserts.
Avoid all fried foods if possible, but if you do need to cook in oil use unrefined olive or walnut oil. Avoid coconut and palm oils, often present in products labelled 'vegetable oil.'
Reduce intake of salt - Use a low salt alternative or a salt replacement if you really need to season you food. Herbs and spices are a useful way of adding flavour!
Salt is a major contributor to heart disease and one which is most frequently overlooked and most easily eliminated. The average daily consumption in the UK is 12g for every man, woman and child - three times the recommended safe amount, which is 4g. Simply halving the amount we use would save around 100,000 lives a year.
Start by getting rid of the salt in your own kitchen. Then become a serious label reader. Only 25 per cent of the salt we consume comes out of the salt pot - and 75 per cent is hidden away in manufactured and packaged foods. Between us, we get through enough each year to fill St. Paul's cathedral to the top of its dome.
You'll find salt in the most surprising places - even a bowl of cornflakes contains more than a bowl of seawater. Once you become a label reader, it's still not that easy, as few packages reveal how much salt their contents supply. They do, however, list the amount of sodium, which, for the manufactures is a conveniently smaller number. To find out what it really means, multiply the figure for sodium by 2.5 to get the true salt content. It's vital to be salt aware with children's food from as early as possible because salt is an acquired taste which rapidly becomes addictive. Blood pressure experts are now warning that early signs of changes caused by hypertension are now being found in post-mortem examination of young children.
Increase intake of foods rich in potassium to keep blood pressure in balance- the best sources are dried fruits, soya flour, nuts, salads, vegetables, fresh fruit (particularly bananas) and fruit juice, muesli and other breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and flour, white bread, eggs and low-fat cheese. Interestingly, both instant and roasted coffees are very rich in potassium, but don't overdo it - too much caffeine is bad for your blood pressure.
Eat more fruit, vegetables and salads - All fresh produce contains a wide range of natural chemicals, especially carotenoids, which act as protective anti-oxidants, preventing damage to the cells of the heart and blood vessels. Making sure that one third of your daily food is made up of fresh fruit, vegetables and salads is the first step on the road to a healthy heart and circulation. They can be cooked, raw, fresh or frozen, but with the exception of beans, should not be tinned. The wider the variety of produce, the better the spread of nutrients, so be adventurous.
Eat more fibre and complex carbohydrates - wholemeal bread, again, brown rice, dried beans, lentils, oats, pasta.
Have more Celery, Garlic, leeks and onions. Eat soya based foods at least once a week to supply the diet with protective isoflavones.
Eat more oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, pilchards - they're a vital addition to the diet as they supply important omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health. They reduce cholesterol, lower the risk of blood clots and are extremely heart protective. Use the good types of fats such mono and poly-unsaturated oils, especially olive, rapeseed, safflower, peanut and walnut. Linseed oil (flaxseed oil) contains high amounts omega-3.
Eating more tomato based foods for the carotenoid, Lycopene has been shown in Eurpoe to reduce heart disease by as much as 48%. The Mediterranean diet is high in Lycopene as well fresh vegetables, oily fish and olive oil.
Vegetarians are reportedly at lower risk of heart disease, due to the generally lower intake of saturated fat and higher consumption of fruit and vegetables.
Eating regular amounts of walnuts, Brazil nuts, or macadamia nuts has been shown to lower cholesterol levels.
Drinking moderate amounts of black tea or Green tea provides a variety of antioxidant compunds that are thought to be protective against heart disease, however drinking very high amounts (2 litres per day) can raise homocysteine levels, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eat foods rich in Folic acid. - Folic acid is a vital nutrient for heart health as it helps to keep homocysteine at a low level in the blood. Increased amounts of homocysteine mean increased risk of heart disease. All dark green leafy vegetables are a rich source of Folic acid.
Other useful advice
Being overweight, greatly increases the risk of heart disease - a general guide if you are under 1.95m tall (6ft 4in) is for men not to let their waistline go above 99cm (approx 39 inches) and for women 90cm (aprrox 35.5 inches). If your waistline is over these measurements visit your doctor for a health check.
Smoking, passive smoking, stress, too much caffeine all increase the risk of heart and circulatory disease. People that are angry and argumentative tend to have more heart problems.
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