By having a consistent intake of healthy foods, regular physical activity, and improving our lifestyle, we are better able to perform at our best.
The heart is a very important organ that serves many functions. A heart healthy lifestyle will nurture the body physically, mentally, and allow for optimal performance!
Function of the Heart
The heart is part of the cardiovascular system. Its main role is to pump blood throughout the body to provide oxygen and nutrients to tissues.
When the heart is unable to pump adequately due to diseases such as heart failure, tissues will be malnourished causing a domino effect of various health conditions.
Heart failure is when the heart has difficulty pumping blood adequately to all parts of the body.
There are several causes such as obesity, a diet high in sodium, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Eating foods with a high fat content raises cholesterol levels in the bloodstream which can attach to the sides of the veins and capillaries.
This can cause a buildup on the walls of the blood vessels over time and will leave less room for blood flow.
When a large amount of sodium is ingested regularly, fluid is pulled into the blood vessels to decrease the concentration of salt.
This is an attempt to reach equilibrium causing the heart to have a larger amount of fluid to pump.
Ultimately, poor lifestyle choices can cause the heart to no longer be able to function properly which will result in parts of the body, such as the legs, being depleted of needed nutrients. This can lead to tissue death, difficulty breathing, and swelling in the extremities.
Benefits of a Heart Healthy Lifestyle
1. Weight loss
When following a heart healthy diet, we are taking in less foods that have harmful fats, such as fried and greasy foods.
Therefore, the food has less cholesterol, is healthier, and assists in decreasing body fat. By incorporating exercise, which is recommended to strengthen the heart, body fat will be burned while building muscle mass.
Also, by eating foods that have a low sodium content, we will have less water weight and decreased swelling in the extremities.
2. Disease prevention
Choosing foods that are good for the heart and staying active can prevent many types of diseases. These include inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses.
- Inflammation is decreased when there is less intake of sodium, and the body does not have to compensate for a poor diet.
- Issues with the heart can trigger diabetes which will cause the body to not be able to properly use insulin. Insulin pushes sugar into the cells to be used for energy. When insulin doesn’t function properly an increased amount of sugar is left in the bloodstream causing damage to depleted cells.
- Respiratory illness is caused by heart failure when the heart is unable to pump properly, and the blood backs up into the lungs. This can cause cough, shortness of breath, and trouble sleeping.
3. Emotional wellbeing
Good diet choices and exercise assist with preventing mental illness resulting in an overall better mood.
Depression and anxiety can be the result of poor food choices and lack of physical activity. By eating foods that provide adequate nutrients to the brain and staying active, the risk of emotional stress will be decreased, improving quality of life.
How to Guide on Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle
1. Exercise Plan
Incorporating different forms of exercise is very important for heart health and maintaining a lifestyle that promotes wellness. The recommended amount of physical activity per week is 150 minutes.
Strength train to build muscle and improve metabolism.
Cardio increases endurance and heart strength.
Stretching assists with the recovery of the muscles.
2. Heart Healthy Diet
A diet that is good for the heart consists of fiber rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. They help clean the body of toxins and provide much needed vitamins.
Healthy fats, such as avocados and olive oil, help to increase healthy cholesterol which will assist in decreasing unhealthy cholesterol that is responsible for heart disease.
Replace bread products made from white flowers with natural oats and grains to increase energy levels.
Replace coffee products and sodas with natural juices and water. Large amounts of caffeine can cause the heart to beat abnormally at a faster rate causing shortness of breath and chest pain.
3. Meal Prep Ideas
Grilled lemon pepper chicken with avocado: This meal is easy and can be served for lunch or dinner!
- Flavor chicken breasts with lemon pepper seasoning on both sides.
- Cook on the stove top using medium heat for about 15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
- Cut up 2 avocados to serve with chicken and add natural lemon juice for extra flavor!
Strawberry salad: This salad is packed with delicious flavor the whole family can enjoy!
- Use dark green salad mix. Greener is better.
- Cut up strawberries and almonds.
- Add strawberries, almonds, small amount of blue cheese crumbles, and blueberries to the salad mix.
- Use strawberry vinaigrette dressing or other vinaigrette dressing of choice.
When you take care of your heart you are caring for every aspect of yourself. The heart is providing adequate nutrition to all the tissues and organs so you can feel your best.
Making conscious choices to improve heart health is good for physical and emotional wellbeing.