Heart health is the perfect topic to talk about in February. We know what a pivotal role our heart plays in life, but do we really know what it does for us? It keeps us alive and kicking for starters. A fascinating part of our body that doesn’t get much attention unless there is something going wrong, like high blood pressure or arrhythmia (too fast or too slow heart beats). You’ll know what it’s up to as you run for the bus and it suddenly feels like it’s jumping out of your chest.
HERE ARE SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT YOUR HEART:
- The heart contracts about 70 times per minute and at each contraction, it pumps about 70 ml of blood.
- That blood that’s pumping carries oxygen and nutrients throughout the body in the arteries. Through the veins, blood carries waste and carbon dioxide back to the heart then into the lungs for them to filter and get rid of the waste.
- At about the size of an adult fist, this muscle does more than your legs or arms will ever take on at the gym. You don’t have to think about it like you do to move fingers or toes. It just works away involuntarily.
- Blood takes about 20 seconds to circulate the entire body.
- The pressure created inside the heart during a heartbeat is enough to squirt blood almost 10 meters.
Keeping your heart healthy takes some awareness. Good food and exercise take care of the heart best. The 100,000 km of arteries, veins and capillaries that transport blood around the body, are like flexible tubes. The inside of that tube needs to maintain healthy cell walls to avoid the band-aid of cholesterol doing its job and potentially causing blockages.
A diet super rich in antioxidants and fish or Omega 3 oils is the best way to be good to your heart. Antioxidant rich foods include colourful fruits and vegetables like rich and dark berries: blueberries, cranberries and blackberries. Colourful peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli and surprisingly beans; pinto, small red, red kidney all pack a super vegetable punch of these cell protecting nutrients. Artichoke is a vegetable not often eaten, but is one of the highest in antioxidants.
Omega 3 fats, including both EPA and DHA, help reduce inflammation throughout the body, as well as the blood. Studies show that a reduction of both blood pressure and cholesterol are possible when omega 3 fatsare consumed. Food sources of omega 3 include: flax and chia seeds, walnuts and almonds. Fish are an excellent source: salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, oysters and trout. Most often, taking a supplement of fish oils is advisable, as eating fish regularly can be difficult. Missing out on the benefits of omega 3 could leave you short when it comes to keeping your heart healthy.
Although your attention may one day be drawn to heart health with concern, eating some of the antioxidant and good fat foods mentioned above will keep your heart happy for a lifetime.