When it comes to health risks, heart disease is not only one of the biggest, it is at the top for both men and women. But here’s the good news: There’s a lot you can do to prevent it, even if your family has heart disease. Here is a look at new research that provides some good starting points.
Even a few aids of dark leafy green make a difference.
Greens such as kale, chard and spinach are often highlighted for their role in lowering inflammation, which is a great help for your heart. And just a few servings a day can be powerful, according to a new study in Journal of the American Heart Association.
That research looked at data from over 50,000 men and women and found that those who ate foods rich in vitamin K – as well as the green ones – had a significantly lower risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease than those who ate the lowest amounts. Other foods high in vitamin include broccoli, beef liver, hard cheeses and avocados.
An interesting aspect of the research is that those who ate much more of these foods did not reduce the risk, says lead author Nicola Bondonno, Ph.D., at the Institute for Nutrition Research, at Edith Cowan University in Australia.
“More did not correspond to major benefits,” she states. “That means it made more sense to have regular servings consistently than to try to recharge them.”
Moderate calorie cutting is better than going too low.
Although lowering your calories significantly can lead to some weight loss, it is actually better for your heart to adopt a more moderate approach, even with a few hundred calories.
According to research in the journal Circulation, people who trimmed about 200 calories from their norm and maintained that amount for 20 weeks while incorporating regular exercise into their routines, had major changes in their aortic stiffness.
It is an important measure of your cardiovascular function and important for the prevention of heart disease. Participants in the study, who reduced about 600 calories per day, actually saw no change, which means that the smaller shift had a greater effect.
You are never too young to start taking preventative measures.
Although people tend to start thinking about preventing heart disease as they get older – which makes sense, as the risk also increases over time – using strategies that young adults can pay off for decades to come.
Here’s a great example: A new study in Journal of the American Heart Association who looked at how eating habits affected people aged 18 to 30 found that adopting a plant-centered diet in that age range is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in middle age. It included fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains.
As part of that shift, the benefits of a plant-based diet can be increased by limiting the consumption of foods high in sodium, added sugars and trans fats, the researchers added.
Your bedtime can play a role.
Sleep quality and heart health have been studied well before, but new research highlights that when you go to bed and when you wake up can actually play a role, no matter how well you sleep between them.
A study in Journal of the American Heart Association found that sleep time seemed to affect the risk of developing heart failure. Those who tended to go to bed after 23:00 and woke up after 8:00 had the highest risks. This may be due to changes in the circadian rhythm, which affect heart health.
That disturbances in the rhythm can also affect you in other ways, such as weight gain and higher stress levels, according to Darria Long Gillespie, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee.
“If your circadian rhythm is turned off, your hormones will exaggerate to try to achieve balance and get you in line again,” she says. “But the result can be overcompensation that has a ripple effect on several aspects of your health.”
Do not miss 7 healthy dietary changes that will help you sleep.
Supporting your gut helps your heart.
Another strong link for heart health is adequate fiber intake, a link strengthened by a new study published in Journal of Nutrition, who found it Increased consumption of whole grains had significant benefits for blood pressure and cholesterol.
Making sure you get enough fiber daily is a big part of gut health as well as heart health, and the two are linked, says senior author Nicola McKeown, Ph.D., researcher in nutritional epidemiology at the US Department of Agriculture. Foods such as whole grains provide compounds such as magnesium and potassium that help with nerve function, blood pressure and digestion, she says.
This means that changes that benefit your heart are rarely just for your heart-healthy diet, regular physical activity and de-stressing can also be a blessing for your whole body and your emotional health.
For more, do not miss these dangerous side effects of high blood pressure.
The post 5 new facts about heart disease prevention you need to know right now appeared first.