Our heart is fundamental to life itself. We tend not to think too much about our hearts and the role they play from conception until the end of life itself, for most of us that is 75 to 85 years old; when we think about it our heart is the power unit that pumps blood continuously without interruption for the entire length of our life. The only time we tend to pay attention to our heart function is when symptoms develop like, blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, chest pains and breathlessness; our heart is in fact a muscle, like all muscles in our body it thrives on healthy exercise. As the winter closes in some strategies to build into daily life may include choosing the stairs rather than the elevator, parking the car at the extremities of the carpark and walking to and from the mall or supermarket; making a conscious effort to walk more within the mall or supermarket, wake a bit earlier and build a routine of walking before starting your day, set goals each day to increase the amount of walking throughout your day.
A fun approach is to use a fitness tracker or smart phone to monitor your daily steps, an ideal goal is 10,000 steps; by setting daily goals and increasing this by 500 steps each day is a suggestion that may work for some.
In summary the best gift you can give your heart is physical activity, like all muscles it thrives on exercise and a healthy diet, like a Mediterranean style diet. Exercise and diet are very often better than medication and may in many cases reduce or eliminate the need for medication.
A John Hopkins research study found that tracking 6200 subjects over an 8 year period reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80% when following a heathy diet and exercising.
Heart disease accounts for approximately a 1/3 of all deaths worldwide and as we mentioned before diet and exercise are a major factor that may impact heart health and heart disease; in fact blood pressure is influenced by certain foods as are cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammation, all of which are linked to heart disease risk. Leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens are generally accepted as contributing a wealth of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins to our diet; they are a great source of vitamin k which promotes blood vessel health, dietary nitrates that reduce blood pressure and support blood pressure vessels.
An analysis of 8 studies found that an increase in leafy green vegetable intake was associated with a 16% reduction in the incidence of heart disease. Another study of 29,689 women showed that a higher intake of leafy green vegetables resulted in a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease.