Keys to a Healthy Heart
Healthy lifestyle factors can prevent it, yet it’s the number one health threat in the world, says Trisha Sugarek MacDonald, BS, MS, Sr. Director of Research & Development at Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation. She’s talking, of course, about cardiovascular disease, a variety of conditions that affect the heart—from infections to genetic defects and blood vessel diseases.
With 416 Baby Boomers turning 65 every hour, heart health will remain top issue in the years to come, Sugarek MacDonald notes. But it’s not just a concern for the aging population. Taking steps to maintain heart health is important for all ages. As pediatric cardiology specialist Ronald Kanter, M.D., stressed in an article titled “Prevention of Heart Disease Starts in Childhood” on www.stanfordchildrens.org: “The kinds of heart problems which relate to the problems adults have don’t really manifest themselves until [children are] much older. But the seeds of those problems are sown in childhood and adolescence.” Obesity, diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and high blood pressure are the “seeds” that set the stage for disease (1).
In terms of prevention, there’s a lot that can be done. “The American Heart Association describes healthy diet as ‘one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease,’ and we’ve recently conducted research demonstrating that consumers understand this,” shares Golan Raz, Head of Global Health Division, Lycored. “We surveyed 500 people over the age of 50 and asked them what they saw as the most important ways to promote cardiovascular wellness. Scoring highest was healthy diet, with two thirds (67%) of respondents ranking it top of a list of four factors, ahead of regular exercise at 25%.”
“Diet is where everything should start,” says Cheryl Myers, Chief of Scientific Affairs and Education at EuroPharma, Inc. “Cutting back on inflammatory foods like sugars and refined grains will help reduce the conditions that can lead to arterial damage and the likelihood of plaque formation and blockage. Then, I would consider healthy fats as an integral part of a heart-healthy regimen. That might sound counterintuitive, but because healthy fats make up the flexible and strong cellular walls of arteries and blood vessels, they are absolutely necessary in the diet.” Add to that physical activity—Myers notes that anything from riding a bike, walking around the neighborhood, joining a dance class, or just working in the garden counts. “Doing those things doesn’t just help you exercise your heart,” Myers adds, “it helps you feel psychologically better, too, which is also important.”
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