Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for one in every four deaths? This February 2016, in conjunction with Heart Month, let’s celebrate our hearts by taking a quick look at some of our favorite, most enjoyable and delicious, holistic heart health solutions.
1. Heart healthy physical activity
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of daily physical activity and either 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. Walking is one of the easiest ways to achieve this. Just a half hour of brisk walking lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of diabetes, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. You might even add two hours to your life expectancy for every hour you log walking. Short on time? Split your walk into 15-minute sessions for the same benefits.
Although yoga does not qualify as moderate-intensity aerobic activity, the American Heart Association heartily endorses yoga for lowering blood pressure, improving heart rate and boosting circulation. The calming benefits make yoga an ideal stress reduction therapy for heart attack patients. Likewise, Qi Gong offers similar cardiac rehabilitation benefits.
2. Healing herbs for heart disease prevention
3. Garlic – Aged garlic extract can stop heart disease from progressing and sometimes even reverse arterial plaque accumulation, according to a Harbor-UCLA Medical Center study. Research shows that aged garlic extract slows atherosclerosis and reverses the early stages of heart disease.
4. Hawthorn – This herb strengthens deteriorated heart muscle, reduces cholesterol buildup in artery walls, lowers blood pressure and helps with arrhythmia and enlarged heart. Hawthorn dilates coronary arteries to improve circulation within the heart.
5. Ginkgo Biloba – This herb improves circulation by dilating arteries, capillaries and veins. It also prevents blood clotting and protects vein walls from free radical damage.
6. Wonder foods for heart health
You probably already know that a heart healthy diet includes large amounts of fruits and vegetables. But a few potent selections are especially correlated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
7. Oats – The superstar of grains, oats contain large amounts of soluble fiber, which sweeps up the cholesterol in the digestive tract to prevent it from being assimilated by the bloodstream and deposited into arteries.
8. Fatty fishes – Saltwater fishes, such as salmon, halibut, and sardines, are loaded with heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids reduce triglycerides and blood pressure and lower the risk of heart arrhythmia and atherosclerosis. If you don’t eat fish, fish oil supplements offer the same powerful protection.
9. Berries and citrus – Even just one weekly serving of strawberries, raspberries or blueberries provides cardioprotective benefits and improved heart health. High amounts of flavonoids and anthocyanins in berries dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Studies show oranges, lemons and grapefruits significantly lower the risk of stroke and cerebral infarction.
10. Massage and acupuncture
A number of long-term studies prove how heart-friendly a consistent massage program is:
- Decreases blood pressure
- Lowers the risk for heart attack
- Releases contracted muscles and directs blood to the heart, reducing the strain on the heart
- Increases blood circulation
- Reduces pain and muscle spasms when performed after heart bypass surgery
Acupuncture treatments are increasingly used to improve the cardiac function and the quality of life in chronic heart failure patients. Researchers believe that acupuncture brings the body back into balance by influencing the autonomic sympathetic nervous system, boosting the parasympathetic nervous system, and providing a powerful anti-inflammatory affect. The Cleveland Clinic is currently conducting an exciting government trial to further explore the heart disease prevention power of acupuncture.
If you’re passionate about transforming the healthcare landscape while empowering others to create a balanced lifestyle, PCOM’s acupuncture, massage therapy, or holistic nursing programs are designed for you.
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Yoga-and-Heart-Health_UCM_434966_Article.jsp#.VxfeZZMrKlM, http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Headline/garlic-heart-disease-plaque/2014/05/06/id/569839/, http://time.com/3263737/eating-fruits-cuts-heart-disease-risk/, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068482/, http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20011114/acupuncture-improves-function-in-heart-failure-patients, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01804816, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100701103409.htm, http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm