Love Your Heart

Love Your Heart

When was the last time you gave your heart some serious thought? It’s an incredible organ and one we don’t always take care of very well. Sometimes that’s just due to a lack of knowledge. Did you know your heart beats around 115,000 times a day? Ask any body builder, and they will tell you that’s some incredible muscle endurance! It’s not just contracting though; it’s pushing and pulling around 2,000 gallons of blood up and through your body every 24 hours. For a muscle that is roughly the size of your fist and weighs less than a pound, that is amazing power. While the heart is unbelievably resilient, it also takes a beating in life.(1) 

Not only is it affected by our food choices, it is also affected by our physical movement, environment, and our emotions. There really is such a thing as a broken heart, and it can feel just like a heart attack. Though rare, it can also be fatal if enough stress hormones flood it from an emotional or stressful situation. This is why it is extremely important to always consider the heart in all areas of lifestyle choices! Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The heart is truly no respecter of persons. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but annually 805,000 people have a heart attack and around 659,000 people die of heart disease every year in the U.S. It was statistics such as these that caught the attention of noops’ founder Gregory Struck. If you missed out on the juicy details behind the creation of noops’ delicious plant based pudding snacks, you can find them in our interview with Gregory! We wanted to be part of the solution when creating a tempting treat that was also heart healthy, and now we want to bring our hearts front and center, so we can make even more wise cardiac choices in life. 

What better time to bring up heart health than February! Sure it’s the month of love and everywhere we look bright red and pink paper hearts decorate restaurants and supermarkets. However, that’s not actually the reason we want to highlight your body’s most important muscle. Nope. It’s because February is also the American Heart Awareness month, dedicated to cardiovascular health and spreading the word on the risks of heart disease since 1963. That’s why we thought it was a great time to take a look at our hearts and get some fresh ideas on how we can protect this vital muscle for many years to come. 

It seems obvious to start with the most common causes of heart disease in general. While some are genetic, it’s important to do everything we can to support our hearts from diet and exercise to maintaining regular check-ups and taking preventative care. Some key players in cardiovascular problems are conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, as well as lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy diet, being sedentary, smoking, or drinking too much. Luckily, most of the things that affect our heart health are within our control to change!

Diet and exercise are two of the biggest influences on our health in general, and they play a significant role in protecting our heart. Let’s start with movement! While there are limitless ways to get your heart pumping, it’s more about quality than quantity. According to the American Heart Association, the heart needs around 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. That’s roughly 22 minutes a day. It’s also been shown that you do not need to do all 21.5 minutes at the same time. A brisk and slightly challenging eleven minute walk in the mornings and another eleven minute burst of heart pumping energy in the evenings, and you’ve added a daily safeguard to your heart! As time is always of the essence, these will be the most important 22 minutes of your day. A healthy heart is a great step to a longer life!

Diet can feel a bit more tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. Most of us know that fried foods, high fats, junky treats, drive-thru dollar menus, and heavily processed food products should not be major staples in a healthy diet. We need to try and cut out as much saturated fat, high cholesterol, and super salty foods as possible. If you are a meat eater, try to eat less of it and choose lean, low-fat options like poultry and fish. If the functions of food and the body are not on your radar, that is totally fine. You don’t need a nutritionist to get a basic understanding of heart healthy choices. Keep some of these simple tips in mind. 

  • Eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables each day that you possibly can! 
  • Try to eat the colors of the rainbow throughout your day.
  • Speaking of color, white bread is not your friend!
  • Opt for whole grains with as little processing as possible. (Fiber helps lower cholesterol.)
  • The closer a food is to its natural state, the better.
  • Choose plant based proteins as often as possible, like nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.
  • Limit fats and opt for healthy ones like avocados and olives.
  • Use herbs to season your foods more than salt and butter. 

It is a common misconception that we can eat whatever we want if we are highly active. Unfortunately, when it comes to a healthy heart, that simply isn’t true. No one can out exercise a bad diet. It is important to remember that how we look on the outside is not always a direct indicator of our overall health on the inside. So be sure to take both what you eat and how you move your body into consideration when protecting your heart. 

Lastly, we must always consider our overall lifestyle practices. It may not always be possible to cut out life’s stressors, but we can take steps which help us deal with that stress. Exercise is a great stress reliever, but so is meditation, yoga, a hot bath, laughter, and rest. If there is a stress in your life that you can get rid of, then definitely do so. For all the rest, remember to take things one step at a time and give yourself a break, even if you don’t think you need it. 

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