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.
Although vegetables tend to have a lot of this nutrient, they’re not the only source. You can also add beans, tuna, blueberries, and other foods to get more vitamin K in your diet.
4. Are you getting enough? If you’re eating a healthy diet with many vegetables and fruits, you may have enough vitamin K. However, it’s not always easy to tell. A healthy diet tends to include enough vitamin K. For example, one cup of kale has more than the recommended daily value of vitamin K that an adult needs.
Nevertheless, it’s possible you may not be getting enough. If you have digestive problems, malabsorption, or liver problems, it may be necessary to take supplements. Conditions such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease can cause a vitamin K deficiency. In other cases, your medications can interfere with the absorption of this essential vitamin.
If you think you might be short on this important nutrient, talk to a medical professional about your concerns. If you need to supplement your diet, there are many types of vitamins that include vitamin K. Choose one that works for you.
5. Special precautions. If you take any type of blood thinners, it’s crucial to be careful with vitamin K. Blood thinners can interact with both food and supplements that contain large amounts of vitamin K. Talk about your medications with your physician and discuss how much vitamin K is in your diet and vitamin pills. You may need to make adjustments to avoid complications.
6. Symptoms of low vitamin K levels. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, seek immediate medical care:
First, you may have trouble after a small cut with the blood refusing to clot.
Bleeding and blood clotting issues are common with this type of deficiency.
You may experience internal digestive system bleeding, gum bleeding, nose bleeds, or other types of issues.
Talk to your doctor about vitamin K and ensure that you’re getting enough for optimal health. Always consult a medical professional before making drastic dietary changes or trying new supplements or pills.
They say losing weight is really hard. And if you want to look at it that way, I guess “they” are right–after all, you have to change your habits, your lifestyle and your mind if you’re going to succeed. And exercise? It can suck. Plus, no one likes to be hungry, am I right?
But there’s another way you can look at it. You don’t have to fight to lose weight.
HOLD ON! Don’t click away just yet. I’m making a valid point, I promise!
This is a very basic concept.
Why you can’t lose weight: You are thinking about the fact that you “need to lose weight.”
According to the law of attraction, whatever you think about and focus on is what you’ll get more of in your life (to put it very simply).
So, if you are “fighting” to “get rid of the extra weight” or to “take off those last few pounds,” guess what? You’re attracting more of that to you.
More reasons to fight. More reasons to need to get rid of the extra weight. More taking off those last few pounds.
If you’re telling yourself that you suck and you’re beating the hell out of your psyche every time you work out–punishing yourself for letting yourself get out of shape in the first place–well, you’ll attract more reasons to suck, more reasons to be mean to yourself, more being out of shape.
So, I guess what this means is that the Universe takes you quite literally–and negatives aren’t a factor. SO, if you say something like, “I don’t want to be fat,” the Universe responds to “I want to be fat” instead.
See what I mean? Unfortunately, though, none of this actually equals to your being thinner or healthier though, which is exactly my point. You can’t lose weight and keep it off if all you’re thinking about is the fact that you are too heavy, flabby or whatever other negative qualities you’re currently focusing on (and attracting to yourself in the process).
How to succeed: Choose your own adventure
It’s as simple as “ask, believe, inspired action, receive.” You have to first decide what you want the end result to be in your process. And be as specific as possible.
Ask: Choose your new body first. Imagine yourself at your goal weight. How does your body look? What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? How does it feel when you interact with others? Do people treat you differently than before?
Believe: you have to first believe that you will meet your goal, and you have to already be there in your head. Imagine what it feels like to be in amazing shape when you meet your ultimate goal. What does it feel like when people notice you’ve lost weight and congratulate you? How do you feel? Why can’t you start feeling it now? Just do it. Walk, talk and behave as though you have already made it to your goal. You will be surprised how quickly you can feel it if you try.
Inspired action: this is the part that some people get stuck on and that some law of attraction gurus fail to point out. But the fact of the matter is that you’ll have to eat less and move more if you want to really get healthy, so when you’re “there” in your head, ask yourself what your new, thinner, healthier self does. Do you dance? Do you workout at a gym or do Insanity in your living room? Or are you a runner, walker or biker? Does your thinner self Whatever your new, thinner self does to stay healthy–start doing that now.
Receive: meet your weight loss and fitness goals. Like I said before, once you “get there” in your head, your body will follow. You have to truly believe that it’s working, and you can’t expect it to suck (or it totally will). Instead, stay as positive as possible, keep your head away from negative, “fat” thoughts and become the person you want to be.
It really works if you work it. Are you ready? Tell me what you think in the comments section, below.