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Nutrition Tips for Heart Health

16-03-2016

Nutrition Tips for Heart Health

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) reports that there are currently around 7 million people in the UK living with heart disease – a condition which remains one of the most common causes of death today. While we can’t always guarantee that we can successfully protect ourselves from heart disease, as some conditions can be inherited, we can reduce our risk by taking care of our health. “Keeping your heart healthy, whatever your age, is the most important thing you can do to help prevent and manage heart disease”, says the BHF [1].

What are some of the things you can do to keep your heart healthy? Most of us know that exercise is a good starting point, and that there are a number of different butter-style spreads available in the supermarkets that can help to lower cholesterol, which can be a cause of heart disease; but how about some of the less well-known ways to improve heart health that can really have a big impact? Vitamins and minerals, in the form of dietary supplements, are increasingly being cited as ways to protect the heart and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular disease, arrhythmia, and heart block.

Fish Oil

We know that monitoring cholesterol levels is a good way to ensure we’re keeping our hearts healthy, but how about monitoring triglycerides? Triglycerides are a type of fat that has been linked to increased risk of heart attack and heart disease. You may have high triglycerides if your diet includes a lot of fatty meat, full fat dairy products, and cooking oils, or if you’ve got low levels of high-density lipoprotein – the ‘good’ cholesterol. Heart UK, the cholesterol charity, recommends eating more oily fish, or taking fish oil supplements [2], as the oils are widely understood to have powerful triglyceride-lowering properties.

Magnesium

Heart block is a type of arrhythmia which causes a person to have a very slow heartbeat. While this in itself isn’t particularly dangerous, it can mean that there’s a delay in transporting essential oxygen to organs and tissue, which can quickly lead to secondary problems. Magnesium deficiency is a leading cause of heart block [3].

Unfortunately, boosting magnesium intake isn’t quite as simple as changing your diet. The magnesium content of food has been rapidly declining as the increased use of pesticides and herbicides has significantly affected mineral uptake by plants. In fact, the Institute for Optimal Nutrition reports that there was a 24 percent reduction in the magnesium content of vegetables between 1940 and 1991, and a 16 percent reduction in that of fruits [4]. Magnesium supplements, which are available over-the-counter, are the best way to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional guidelines.

Taking Care of Your Heart

Making sure you’re staying well nourished is just one of the ways you can be sure you’re doing the very best to protect your heart. It’s also a good idea to eat healthily, take up some gentle exercise if you’re currently fairly sedentary, and take measures to minimise your stress levels as much as possible.