The British Journal of Sports Medicine put out a great article discussing how changes in your daily routine have a large impact on reducing your risk of heart disease and related conditions such as stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, as well as diabetes.
Right now, we better understand that saturated fat intake is not as bad as we originally thought.
"A landmark systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed no association between saturated fat consumption and (1) all-cause mortality, (2) coronary heart disease (CHD), (3) CHD mortality, (4) ischaemic stroke or (5) type 2 diabetes in healthy adults."
So if fat isn't the culprit, what should we be looking at now?
Below I will share the areas that can reduce your risk today.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease through Reducing Inflammation
Low Carbohydrate and Low Refined Sugar or Processed Foods
Carbohydrates are our natural fuel source, but in the developed world, we over eat carbs in our diet. It is recommended to eat 40-60% of our diet in carbohydrates in a standard diet. However, it is easy to eat a bag of chips and overeat this daily allowance. There are many foods that can push it over the edge.
The other side of this is eating processed foods with added refined sugar and/or salt. Many processed foods from the grocery store include added sugar and salt for flavor which bump up your carbs easily. Reading nutrition labels and perhaps eating more real, fresh foods are best.
Eating increased vegetables in the diet is another way to supplement your healthy diet. It's easy to miss this and substitute for those refined carbohydrates above. Looking for fresh produce is a great option. I'm happy with anyone just adding vegetables to their diet in any way if it gets them to a reasonable amount.
Good Fats / Omega-3's
Using better fats such as fish oil, nuts, and olive oil can improve your diet instead of reaching for other fat sources. Tuna is another source of fish oil that is easy to incorporate. While you're at it looking to add good fats and veggies, my wife and I enjoy roasting fresh vegetables that we simply put olive oil, salt, and pepper on. So easy yet delicious.
Regular Exercise and Particularly Aerobic Exercise (at least 22 min/day)
I could hammer on this over and over again. The truth is regular aerobic activity is needed for improved heart health. The simple answer is brisk walking for 20-30 minutes each day. However, this is a minimum and your results can be much better with a comprehensive exercise program.
The primary ways to improve your health are not a surprise - diet and exercise. It's been drilled into our minds since we are young, but people are not really sure what that means for them. So now you should have some ideas about ways to improve your heart health via diet and exercise.
In a future article, we will discuss how high quality sleep is also a factor for the heart. For now, let’s focus on nutrition and moving.