Support a healthy heart and circulation
Every day your heart provides vital oxygen and nutrients to every single cell in your body by pumping a staggering 7, 500 litres of blood around your circulatory system. One of the most crucial and hard-working organs in the body, the heart beats an average of 100, 000 times a day and an astounding 2.5 billion times in an average lifetime. So, it’s easy to see why a healthy heart and circulation are so important: if any cell becomes overly toxic or is deprived of its vital blood supply – and therefore oxygen and fuel – it will soon die.
The flow of blood in arteries is reduced when fatty deposits, known as plaques, form on artery walls. This process of plaque formation is called atherosclerosis and contributes to reduced blood flow, high blood pressure and heart attacks – it is associated with a diet high in sugar and saturated fats found in red meat and dairy products.
High blood pressure can also be caused by constriction of artery walls due to high salt intake, smoking, stress, and also due to thickening of the blood (lack of nutrients such as vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids) and obesity. Supporting heart and circulatory health relies on looking at all the health aspects that make up their function. Look after your heart with the following diet and lifestyle tips, and it will help you enjoy life to the full for longer.
- Fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains are rich in fibre, which binds with cholesterol in the gut to be removed. They are also rich in antioxidant vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which all play a part in heart health. As complex carbohydrates they take much longer to break down and release their sugars as energy than quick-fix sugars like biscuits, cakes, fizzy drinks and sweet, which lead to the weight gain associated with heart disease.
- Omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish like, salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines may help to reduce bad ‘LDL” cholesterol and high blood pressure, thin the blood and reduce inflammation in arteries. Like the high-fibre foods above, fish is also a good source of the B vitamins that stop the build-up of homocysteine – a naturally occurring substance linked to hear disease.
- Celery has been shown to lower cholesterol; this action is attributed to the chemical phthalide, which has been shown to relax blood vessels and lower stress hormones in the blood. Also rich in the flavanoid apigenin, as few as four celery stalks can have an immediate effect on lowering blood pressure.
- Take country walks. We breathe more naturally in fresh air, away from pollution, promoting increased oxygen intake and improved circulation. And walking is the most natural form of exercise, bringing down stress levels and lengthening calves to pump blood back to the heart.
- Deep, slow breathing reduces the workload for the heart – especially when lying down, with the chest supported. The results is a more efficient, stronger heart that doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues, awarding your ticker a well-earned rest!