The connection between a nutritious diet and a healthy heart just became even clearer. A recent study by the University of Washington found that almost half of deaths from cardiovascular disease can be prevented by changing what you put on your plate.
To make those choices easier, researchers also identified several of the leading risk factors and measured how much they contribute to the likelihood of heart conditions and stroke.
It’s a big deal when you consider that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the US and worldwide. Find out which dietary changes will have the biggest impact on helping you to lead a longer and more active life.
Top Dietary Factors for a Healthy Heart
1. Go nuts. The single most effective step you can take is eating more nuts and seeds. They reduce 11.6% of the risk of CVD death.
2. Eat more vegetables. Vegetables were close behind. Aim for at least 7 servings a day of fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits.
3. Choose whole grains. Enjoy whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and brown rice. They have more protein and fiber than refined grains. Plus, they’re more filling, so you’ll probably feel satisfied with fewer calories.
4. Limit salt. Excess sodium increases blood pressure, and the symptoms are often invisible. Substitute lemon, garlic, and other flavorful herbs and spices.
5. Eliminate trans-fatty acids. Trans-fats raise unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy HDL cholesterol. You can avoid them by eating fewer processed foods, especially those that list partially hydrogenated oils in their ingredients.
More Habits for a Healthy Heart
1. Try a Mediterranean diet. Following a Mediterranean diet guarantees heart-healthy choices. This diet consists of mostly plant-based foods, along with fish and moderate amounts of red wine.
2. Increase omega-3s. However you eat, consider adding at least 2 servings of fish a week to your diet, especially fatty types like salmon and tuna. If you’re a vegetarian, rely on flax seeds, walnuts, and beans for your omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Quit smoking. Talk with your doctor if you’re having trouble giving up tobacco on your own. Your physician can help you understand your options, including nicotine-replacement devices and support programs.
4. Use alcohol in moderation. Small quantities of alcohol may actually be good for your heart. That means up to 2 cocktails a day for men and one for women.
5. Turn off the TV. Couch potatoes are at higher risk of heart disease, strokes, and cancer. Limit your daily viewing to 2 hours or less.
6. Exercise regularly. Physical activity makes your muscles stronger, and that includes your heart. Enjoy aerobic exercise, stretching, and resistance training. Design workouts that you love and will want to stick with.
7. Lose weight. Being overweight puts an extra strain on your heart, especially if those excess pounds are mostly around your waist. Slim down by eating less and exercising more. Ask your family and friends for support. They may even want to join you. Losing just 10% of your body weight can greatly enhance your cardiovascular wellbeing.
8. Manage stress. How you deal with stress can also take a toll on your heart if you reach for junk foods, beer, and cigarettes. Learn to relax more safely with meditation, stimulating hobbies, and gentle music.
Cutting your risk of cardiovascular conditions in half is one more worthy reason for eating a balanced diet and making other simple lifestyle changes. Take care of your heart by consuming more nuts, vegetables, and whole grains, and cutting back on empty calories.
“Object focused meditation is a visual meditation involving an external physical item. Since we are conditioned to be task-oriented since childhood, we have learned to keep the mind from drifting by giving it a task to focus on. Object focused meditation makes use of this conditioning by getting the mind to focus on the object in front of you. It tricks the mind into staying in the present moment.” ~Kushan KS
For the purposes of our Whole Life Fix Movement, I suggest you choose a meditation object–also known as a talisman, or a symbol, that reminds you of the kind of transformation you’re working toward. You are welcome to use the one I’ve selected, or you may select your own.
What’s a Talisman?
The word “Talisman,” derived from the Greek verb “teleo,” means, primarily, to accomplish, or bring into effect. The Talisman is an object marked with magic signs and is believed to confer on its bearer supernatural powers or protection. Virtually every religion in human history has offered as adherents small decorative objects which purpose is to do anything ranging between healing, protection or success.
My Transformation Talisman: A Turquoise/Green Butterfly
What It Looks Like: Almost exactly like the one I used in our Whole Life Fix Movement promo–here, to your left.
Why I Selected It: It was meant to be, I swear. The Un00000000000000000000000000000iverse told me to do it. But seriously, it just came to me. What’s funny is that when I designed the butterfly in the promo, I was just thinking of a well-known symbol of transformation–but the next day when I went shopping for something completely unrelated, I happened to come across this felt butterfly that was just about the perfect color. I bought it–and I’m going to add a few personal touches and then put it up in my office where I can see it every day.
Talismans and sacred geometry
Very often the talismans symbols are taken out of sacred geometry. The term “sacred geometry” is used by archaeologists, anthropologists, and geometricians to encompass the religious, philosophical and spiritual beliefs that have sprung up around.
It is a term covering Pythagorean geometry and neo-Platonic geometry. Sacred geometry is often referred to as a language of G-d. Sacred geometry symbols are a means of bringing subtle, inner realities to a focus in outward expression. Within the fundamental unity of consciousness, certain symbols, such as the lotus lifting itself in purity above the muddy water, possess universal relevance and power.
Ancient Egyptian Talismans
Scarab beetle–The young scarab beetles emerged spontaneously from the burrow they were born in. Therefore they were worshipped as “Khepera”, which means “the one who came forth”. The scarab-beetle god Khepera was believed to push the setting sun along the sky in the same manner as the beetle with his ball of dung. In many artifacts, the scarab is depicted pushing the sun along its course in the sky.
Ankh–The Ankh is a symbolic representation of both Physical and Eternal life. It is known as the original cross, which is a powerful symbol that was first created in Ancient Egypt. Ankh is typically associated with material things such as water, air, sun, as well as with the Gods, who are frequently pictured carrying an Ankh.
Heart--In Egyptian history, the heart replaced the heart which was removed during mummification. Sometimes assimilated to the Bennu, “Soul of Râ”, it brings the protection of both Osiris and Râ.
Other Egyptian talismans–Buckle or Knot of Isis, Djed, Ba, Two Fingers and Udjat or Eye of Horus.
The cross–The cross of Christianity was a symbol of the faith. It was previously considered a pagan symbol, with several early church fathers objecting to its use. The cross represents Christ’s victory over death and sin, since it is believed that through His death he conquered death itself.
Fish–The fish’s first known use as a Christian religious symbol was sometime within the first three centuries AD. Christians began using the Greek word for “fish” as an acronym for “Jesus Christ God’s Son, Savior”. Followers of Christianity were called Pisciculi; the root of this Latin word is “fish”.
Jewish and Kabbalah Talismans
Star of David–The name David in ancient Hebrew (during the time of King David) is made up of three letters “Dalet”, “Vav” and “Dalet”. The letter Dalet in ancient Hebrew is actually a triangle. King David used the six pointed star as his signature (the two triangles of his name). The middle letter “Vav” means six – The six pointed star. The six-points symbolize that God rules over the universe and protects us from all six directions: North, South, East, West, Up and Down. King David used this symbol in the battlefield on his shield as an omen from God.
Hamsa–The Hamsa is known as the hand of Miriam or Hamesh hand. The Hamsa serves as an ancient talismanic way of averting the evil eye and providing a “protecting hand” or “Hand of God”. The Hamsa often appears in stylized form, as a hand with three fingers raised, and sometimes with two thumbs arranged symmetrically.
Five metals ring–According to the ancient kabalistic text, the secret of the five metals ring success is that at the specific time of the creation of the ring with these five metals, Jupiter’s influence is summoned forth. Jupiter is the star of development and expansion, and success is at it’s strongest at the specific time of the ring’s creation. The layer on the top of the five metals ring is pure gold. Below it there is a layer of lead and tin, and the last layer is copper, while the ring itself is made out of silver.
Tree of life–The Tree of Life is one of the most familiar of the Sacred Geometry Symbols. The structure of the Tree of Life is connected to the sacred teachings of the Jewish Kabbalah. The Tree of Life is explained in Sefer Yetzira (“Book of Creation”). The book explains the creation as a process involving the 10 divine numbers (sefirot) of God the Creator and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The 10 sefirot together with the 22 letters constitute the “32 paths of secret wisdom”.
Buddha–Buddha images provide a reassuring reminder of the basic tenets of Buddhist religion. Just as Buddhist religion is practiced in many different ways, the Buddhist image also serves a wide variety of ritual purposes and has different meanings for different people. Buddha can be invested with a huge amount of information, meaning and implication; they evolve and they are given life. The Buddha image cast in the human form gives it a value presented as calm, still and serene.
Mandalas–The Tibetans create their beautiful Mandalas from colored sand and if you’ll take a metal plate and cover it with sand and make it vibrate with different sounds, you will be able to see different structures that are formed in the sand, that are very similar to the sand Mandalas. In the end, after a few weeks when the Mandalas is finished, they simply wipe the sand off Mandalas to show the non-attachment to the illusion of the external, and also to show the constant change and the process of life and death that takes place in the external world of illusion.
OM–Om (ॐ) is the most sacred syllable in Hinduism, first coming to light in the Vedic Tradition. The syllable is sometimes referred to as the “Udgitha” or “pranava mantra”. The symbol of Om contains three curves, one semicircle and a dot. The large lower curve symbolizes the waking state; the upper curve denotes deep sleep (or the unconscious) state, and the lower curve (which lies between deep sleep and the waking state) signifies the dream state.
Tibetan Knot–The Tibetan knot (Srivatsa or the endless knot) is one of the eight symbols of the Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan knot can stand for karmic consequences: pull here, something happens over there. It is an apt symbol for the Vajrayana methods: Often when we tug at one part of a knot while trying to loosen it, another part becomes tighter. You have to work with the knot to enable it to come undone. In its endless configuration, it evokes the cyclic nature of rebirth and also calls karmic connections to mind.