Heart disease is in fact an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of medical conditions: heart rhythm problems, congenital heart conditions, heart infections, and diseases of the blood vessels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common is coronary heart disease (aka coronary artery disease), which results from plaque buildup in the arteries that lead to the heart. The Mayo Clinic lists symptoms for a variety of heart conditions here.
All the different conditions under this blanket term “heart disease” can be caused by genetic factors (e.g., family history), and lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and/or caffeine, and poor stress management, often have a hand as well. Of course, as with most health issues, diet, exercise, and weight play a big role.
When it comes to heart disease, most of us have heard the refrain “watch your diet” or “eat right.” But what do these terms really mean? Unless you have a loved one who has struggled with a heart condition, you might not ever think about the practical applications of “eat right”—the specific foods, cooking methods, and other health-related habits that boost heart health—until it’s too late. And with heart disease as the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States, this isn’t a gamble most people want to take.
Take cholesterol, for example. Most people think that if your cholesterol is high, the main thing to do is avoid eating foods that contain cholesterol. While it’s true that reducing your dietary cholesterol intake is a generally accepted prescription for lowering blood cholesterol, did you know that some foods that contain cholesterol can actually be good for you? Salmon is one kind of fish whose omega-3 fatty acids help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, even though salmon contains cholesterol. Plus, according to the Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School, “omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.”
For help navigating the ins and outs of “watching your diet” for a healthier heart, sign up today for the free online seminar, “Heart Smart Diet Secrets,” offered at Source4women.com.