With 1 in 6 Australians affected by cardiovascular health issues, at a cost of $5.9 billion to the country— heart health issues continue to be one of the biggest burdens to the economy and remains at the forefront of the health agenda in Australia.
World Heart Day is this 29th September 2019—and The World Heart Federation has made it part of their mission to ensure heart health equity for all by creating a global community of ‘Heart Heroes.’
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This year, global citizens are invited to make a promise regarding dietary, fitness, health and lifestyle changes at work and at home for a longer, better, heart-healthier life for someone they love or care about.
Here to share his 5 top tips on heart health is Integrative Cardiologist Dr Jason Kaplan—on the things we can start doing now for the short and long term.
- For exercise – Get your heart pumping without going to the gym
Many experts are recommending that exercise should be the first thing prescribed to individuals wanting to be proactive about their long-term health. This is because the benefits of exercise stretch far beyond your waistband– exercise actually strengthens your heart, and 30 minutes of exercise per day has been shown to lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health.
30 minutes a day feeling unachievable? Find exercise that doesn’t necessarily feel like ‘exercise’. This might be something as easy as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, power walking instead of leisurely walking, or even dancing—aim to move and increase your heart rate every day if possible.
- Plant forward foods
Along with Omega fatty acids and trying a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil and nuts , another heart health nutrition option worth incorporating are ‘plant forward’ foods. This means eating less meat or giving it up entirely, as some meats are high in saturated fats, which can add to elevated cholesterol levels of the LDL — or “bad” — cholesterol. While lean meats like poultry and fish can be great sources of protein, don’t shy away from ‘lean, mean and green protein , as every plant we eat has some protein in it. This includes options like tofu, quinoa, mushrooms, lentils, chickpeas and most beans and legumes. Other vegetables that have an excellent source of protein are artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collards, corn, potatoes, peppers, spinach, sweet potatoes and turnip greens. If you are eating many of these foods, you may be getting enough protein without meat.
- Have regular check ups
Even if you are feeling fine, it is important to check in with your GP every 6 months for your heart health. This way, if your blood pressure or cholesterol starts to fluctuate into concerning ranges above 120/80, you can begin to treat this right away. The earlier you begin to address these symptoms and look at your options with your healthcare practitioner, the better. Twice a year is a good benchmark to make a date with your doctor in regards to your heart health, particularly after the age of 65—research shows that this is the age when we are more likely of developing heart health issues.
- Manage stress and chill out
Although stress can creep up on you in the best and wort of times—from unexpected bills, family emergencies or running late due to traffic jams, it is important to manage your stress level as it may have an impact on your heart health. Remember that mental health can be reflected in our physical health. Stress triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can impact your blood pressure and heart rate. Investing in your psychological and social wellbeing can leave your heart feeling fuller and healthier.
- Antioxidants and Supplementation
When it comes to heart health, consuming antioxidants is a great way to reverse the damage caused by oxidation and free radicals, which causes inflammation and ageing in our bodies. Heart friendly antioxidants to look out for include blueberries, bergamot citrus extract, and Ubiquinol, the active form of Coenzyme Q10. Supplements can be useful when diet intake is inadequate or like many of us life’s business prevents us from eating an ideal heart healthy diet.
Ubiquinol is a powerful, naturally occurring antioxidant in your body which is essential in energy production. Supplementing with Ubiquinol has been shown to assist in maintaining healthy levels of LDL cholesterol and may help with overall maintenance of a healthy cardiovascular system. In a study in an American Heart Association journals, patients with heart disease who took Ubiquinol showed an improvement in the plasma CoQ10 levels and improvement in heart function.
Speak to your healthcare practitioner to find out which supplement is right for you. Always read the label and use only as directed.