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Take 5 Steps to a Healthier Heart
While most of us are familiar with the more obvious risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, and stress, there are also simple ways that you can tweak your daily nutrition to optimize the health of your heart and cardiovascular system. With heart disease affecting more than 1.37 million Canadians and being a leading cause of death in Canada, implementing a few daily changes can be extremely worthwhile.
1) Healthy Fats
By adding more healthy fats to your diet you will help to keep your cholesterol in check, balance your blood sugar, lower your blood pressure, and stay satiated throughout the day to prevent cravings at night. Natural healthy fat sources include avocados and avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts & seeds, and wild fish. Avoid trans fats, including fried fast foods, baked goods, pre-packaged processed foods, and anything “partially hydrogenated” like margarine.
2) Lower Your Sugar Intake
The latest research confirms that sugar has an important correlation to heart disease. Even when accounting for all other risk factors, high sugar intake is shown to increase one’s risk of having a heart attack. Sugar has been shown to cause elevations in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and of course, insulin resistance. Sugar also triggers inflammation, which is a contributor to heart disease. Start reducing your daily intake by cutting out juices, sodas, and sweetened coffees or teas you drink, as they are a major source of concentrated sugars.
3) Add Garlic to Your Diet
This powerful herb has a variety of cardiovascular benefits. Garlic can improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Garlic has also been shown to protect arteries from plaque buildup and calcification. Aim for three cloves a day, divided between meals. Use caution with garlic consumption if you are on blood thinning medication, as this can enhance the effects.
4) Coenzyme Q10
Ask your Naturopathic Doctor whether you would be a good candidate for supplementing with CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10). This vitamin-like substance is found in the mitochondria (a major site of energy production) of cells, with high concentrations in the heart. It plays a key role in optimal functioning of the heart, as well as the development of various types of heart disease. CoQ10 naturally decreases in our bodies as we age, and is also depleted with the use of statin medications, used to treat high cholesterol.
This amino acid is found in high concentrations in the mitochondria of the heart, and has been shown to play a role in preventing heart disease, working synergistically with CoQ10. L-carnitine helps transform fats into energy, and protects the mitochondria of the heart. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about whether or not L-carnitine is a suitable supplement for you.3
Nicola Kempinska, ND practices family medicine, with a focus on anti-aging and longevity medicine as well as, women’s health. Visit: www.DrKempinska.com