February is American Heart Month, a reminder that it pays to be heart health conscious. In honor of American Heart Month, here is a look at the basics of heart health, including diet, supplement, and lifestyle advice to help you preserve your heart's health over time.
The Utmost Importance of a Healthy Heart
The heart is one of the human body's critical organs, but it is not merely this fact alone that makes heart health deserving of priority status. It is the risk and commonality of heart disease that begs the attention given to this topic. Heart disease is the leading cause of death
for Americans. The specific proportion of deaths attributed to some form of heart disease
is roughly one in four.
Fortunately, the medical field and its surrounding culture has long regarded heart health as a high priority. One of the foremost organizations in preventing heart disease and death is the American Heart Association
, which is responsible for a number of campaigns to give people the tools and knowledge to improve their health and prevent heart disease, per today.com.
Keeping Your Heart Healthy
Establishing a lifestyle that supports a healthy heart is not altogether difficult. The recommendations for keeping your heart healthy are simple and straightforward. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a diet that is rich in plant-based foods
and healthy proteins and fats, while also low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar, is crucial. Reducing or eliminating alcohol intake and staying hydrated are also very important.
Getting enough sleep
is highly important for a healthy heart in the long term. For those over age 45, this means getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Physical activity
is also enormously beneficial, as at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity per week is recommended.
A sedentary lifestyle
wherein one is sitting for long periods of time every day is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. For this reason, it's important to get up and move throughout the day.
Supplements for Heart Health
The heart requires vitamins, minerals, and other substances to function properly. Therefore, certain supplements have the potential to bolster heart health and possibly reduce the risk of heart disease. However, taking supplements is not a replacement for making healthy lifestyle decisions. Always speak to your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Fiber is beneficial to the heart because it can help reduce the amount of negative LDL cholesterol
that your body absorbs. Psyllium husk fiber is the most common type recommended for this purpose. If you are supplementing with fiber, be sure to stay hydrated as well.
Fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids is another heart-healthy supplement. Supplementing with fish oil can help reduce the amount of triglycerides
(an unhealthy type of fat) in the blood. It can also help reduce high blood pressure. While supplementing with fish oil has not been scientifically proven to reduce heart disease directly, there's no doubt that these factors can indirectly support the heart.
A multivitamin is potentially useful in preventing heart disease
. Taking a multivitamin can help fill in the nutrient gaps in a person's diet, which can be necessary even if one has a healthy diet.
Garlic can be beneficial to the heart and to overall cardiovascular health because it can potentially help lower high blood pressure.
It's thought to help by slowing plaque build-up in the arteries.
Magnesium can be a useful supplement for the heart. This is because magnesium deficiency
is linked to other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and hardening of the arteries.
L-carnitine supplements can prove beneficial to the heart because of l-carnitine's contribution to energy production in cells.
L-carnitine works to transport fats into the mitochondria of cells, where it is converted into energy. Multiple studies have linked l-carnitine to an improvement in heart function.
Considering the critical nature of the heart and the commonality of heart disease, it is important to be aware of what it means to be heart-healthy. Consider the above lifestyle advice, as well as the supplements listed, as you ponder your heart's health.