Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term including conditions such as atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, hypertrophy, scarring, heart failure, coronary insufficiency, aneurysm, clots and nephrosclerosis. Hypertension (high blood pressure) being the top risk factor...
Here are my key tips for increasing cardiovascular health:
1. Increase healthy fats: Omega 3 has a proven anti-clotting affect on the blood and also reduces inflammation. Find this in oily fish, walnuts, flaxseeds also known as linseed or use as an oil. Monounsaturated fats regulate LDL and HDL cholesterol. Find this in nuts, avocado, legumes and seeds. A lot of these foods are also high in Vitamin E, which increases circulation.
2. Increase blood thinning foods: Garlic, ginger and onion have blood thinning properties, helping it to flow through blood vessels freely increasing circulation and avoiding clots. They are also packed full of powerful antioxidants to protect the vessels as well as the heart.
3. Reduce stress: hormones released during times of stress greatly increase your blood pressure, straining the heart muscle. Finding outlets for stress each day is important for everyone…deep breathing techniques, meditation, journal writing, walking or hobbies are great ways to do so.
4. Regulate fluids: minimise caffeine (tea, coffee, energy drinks and chocolate) as it too increases your blood pressure via the stress hormone cortisol. It is also a diuretic encouraging urination, which unbalances blood pressure further. Increase water (2 litres plus daily) and herbal tea to regulate blood pressure. Chamomile tea has a calming affect on the body, use during times of stress.
5. Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables everyday: to provide antioxidants to protect and strengthen the heart and vessels. They also contain soluble fibre, which helps to regulate LDL and HDL cholesterol.
6. Exercise daily: the heart is a muscle that needs to be worked to strengthen, aim for 30 minutes each day. Join a sports team, take a walk during your lunch break, take the stairs when possible and dust the cobwebs off your pushbike.
7. Kick the habit: smoking is one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and it is 100% avoidable. The chemicals within tobacco smoke harm your blood cells as well as damage the structure and function of the blood vessels.