By Sherry Torkos, Pharmacist and author of Saving Women’s Hearts and The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
February is heart health awareness month, so this is the perfect time to talk about what we can do to protect ourselves against heart disease. We all know that it is important to exercise, eat healthy and avoid smoking, but you may be surprised to learn about these additional strategies that can help prevent heart disease:
Get another hour sleep
Why? Lack of sleep has been shown to raise blood pressure, trigger inflammation and promote clotting and atherosclerosis. All of these factors raise the risk for heart disease. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Make sleep a priority for better health.
Why? Stress is a powerful risk factor for heart disease. Stress raises blood pressure and cholesterol, triggers inflammation and promotes blood clots. To better manage stress, try deep breathing, meditation, yoga and get regular exercise.
Add more colourful fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Why? Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables contain plant pigments, which are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants offer a number of health benefits. They can help fight free radical damage, support the health of your blood vessels, and reduce inflammation.
Choose smart supplements
Why? It is difficult to get enough essential nutrients from diet alone. Certain nutrients are known to play an important role in heart health, such as the omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish. Omega-3s lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, fight inflammation and prevent clotting. Look for a supplement that pairs omega-3 fatty acids along with coenzyme Q10 (a vital antioxidant), such as femMED Heart Health.
Why? Laughing relaxes and expands the blood vessels, which protects the heart. On the contrary, negative emotions such as anger, hostility and pessimism are associated with increased heart disease risk.