By Ann Liguori, Chillax’n CBD Ambassador, Radio & TV Sports Talk Show Host, Correspondent, Author
Happy Heart month! We all know February to be the month that we celebrate ‘love.’ And so how appropriate it is that February is ‘Heart Health Month’ as well! Let’s be in love with our own heart and prioritize taking care of it!
February as ‘Heart Health Month’ is a tradition that started back in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, nine years after he suffered a heart attack.
First the bad news: According to the American Heart Association (AHA) in their latest annual Statistical Update (https://newsroom.heart.org/news/heart-disease), heart disease remains the #1 cause of death worldwide. The AHA Statistical Update reports that “globally, nearly 18.6 million people died of cardiovascular disease in 2019, reflecting a 17.1 % increase over the past decade.”
The good news is that heart disease is preventable in most cases if we make healthy choices!
The American Medical Association (AMA) in this article, (https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/ama-offers-6-tips-improve-heart-health-during-american-heart-month), offers six tips to improve heart health:
-Know your blood pressure numbers
-commit to a treatment plan to manage high blood pressure
-be more physically active - regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. It is recommended that healthy adults 18 to 65 years of age should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.
-Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar—making simple dietary changes can help you manage or prevent high blood pressure, including eating less sodium, red meat and processed meats, reducing the amount of packaged, processed foods you consume—especially those with added sodium and sugar, and reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Eat foods that are rich in potassium and add more plant-based foods, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds to your diet.
-Maintain or achieve a healthy weight—take steps to lose weight, if overweight. Being 20 pounds or more overweight could put you at increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
-Quit smoking! The AMA warns that “Tobacco use is a major risk factor for two of the nation’s most prevalent and troubling conditions - type 2 diabetes and heart disease.” https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/50-years-anti-smoking-efforts-save-8-million-lives
Certain foods trigger blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammation which are all risk factors for heart disease. So eating the right foods is key!
The Mayo Clinic, in this article on Mayoclinic.org, (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702) offers these tips:
-Eat more vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits, like other plants or plant-based foods, contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease
-Select whole grains
Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Or be adventuresome and try a new whole grain, such as whole-grain farro, quinoa or barley.
-Limit unhealthy fats
Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
-Choose low-fat protein sources
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.
Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. You'll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources are flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil.
Legumes — beans, peas and lentils — also are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat. Substituting plant protein for animal protein — for example, a soy or bean burger for a hamburger — will reduce your fat and cholesterol intake and increase your fiber intake.
-Reduce the sodium in your food
Eating a lot of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing sodium is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that:
- Healthy adults have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of salt)
- Most adults ideally have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day
Although reducing the amount of salt you add to food at the table or while cooking is a good first step, much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups, baked goods and frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your own soups and stews can reduce the amount of salt you eat.
Heart health has always been a priority of Beneficial Blends. Beneficial Blends specializes in edible oils and fats; oils like coconut oil that adds to heart, brain and metabolic health. Coconut oil is one of Beneficial Blend’s best sellers and for good reason!
“Coconut oil is being recognized as a superfood,” says Erin Meagher, CEO, Beneficial Blends. “The unique combination of fatty acids in coconut oil may have positive effects on your heart, brain and metabolic health. The natural saturated fats in coconut oil increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in your body. They may also help turn LDL (bad) cholesterol into a less harmful form. By increasing HDL, many experts, including the American Heart Association, believe that coconut oil may boost heart health and help reduce heart disease.”
So with more and more Americans, young and old, at risk for heart disease because of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, let’s focus on doing what is necessary to boost heart health. Break your bad habits. Focus on eating the right foods and exercising. Let’s fall in love this month and make your Heart, your Valentine, by taking care of ourselves! Your heart deserves your love, now and always!
No statements in this article regarding hemp have been evaluated by the FDA. Consult with your physician before consuming hemp or beginning a hemp product regimen