Prevent Heart Disease with a Healthy Lifestyle

Posted on May 8th, 2012 by in Healthy Living

It’s the organ we associate with love. It’s the organ whose beats keep us alive. Let’s face it: the heart is pretty important. And yet more people die from heart disease in the United States than from anything else.

Proper nutrition and exercise are widely known to prevent and reverse the ubiquitous national disease, but social connectivity might play more of a role in protecting that mega-important organ than you think. “A connected life with supportive individuals can literally save your life,” says Lisa B. Nelson, MD, Healthy Living Director of Medical Education at Kripalu.

Whether you draw comfort from a loving family, a caring circle of friends, a religious group, or a supportive therapist, social connections reduce stress, which contributes to cardiovascular disease. In fact, studies have shown that people who participate in community or religious groups fare better after a heart attack than those who don’t. “It’s not just about taking your medication,” says Lisa. “When you spend time with someone you care about, you relax. Blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate all go down.”

Lisa, a practicing family physician, counts not only her family but a strong network of friends as part of her healthy heart prescription. “We help each other out a lot,” she notes, “and we share recipes. They eat more kale because of us; we eat more squash because of them. It’s easy to see how friends can help perpetuate a healthy lifestyle.”

Speaking of food, Lisa is also a big believer in the benefits of a healthy diet to prevent and reverse heart disease. After our Kripalu Perspectives podcast, she shared with me some of her favorite cardio-protective nutrition tips:

Optimize the Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon and tuna, sardines, walnuts, and flax seeds are anti-inflammatory and protect against heart disease.

Pump up the Plant Fats: Avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, and almond butter are high in monounsaturated fats, which lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raise “good” cholesterol (HDL).

Go Green: Kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard are high in magnesium and potassium, two nutrients that are key for cardiac health. A high intake of fruit and vegetables (particularly the green leafy variety) has been associated with a reduction in heart attack and stroke.

Spice it Up: Garlic is a super food, rich in micronutrients like selenium, manganese, and vitamins C and B6, which are anti-inflammatory and can be helpful in inhibiting clot formation.

And there’s an added benefit to a cardio-protective diet. “In your later years,” Lisa points out, “you won’t just protect against heart disease. You’ll avoid chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, possibly even depression.” One thing seems true, however – whether you’re nourishing yourself with healthy food, regular exercise, or people you care for, you’re protecting your heart—and protecting your life.

Listen to the podcast.

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About Portland Helmich

Portland is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She's also is the creator, host, and executive producer of What’s the Alternative?, a series of 52 half-hour talk shows about natural and alternative forms of healing the body-mind on Veria Living TV, a natural health channel on DISH, FiOS, and Frontier. For 15 years, Portland’s been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer. She's been an alternative medicine correspondent for Oxygen, a health reporter for The American Consumer on PBS, and was the creator, host, and executive producer of Journeys Into Healing on Wisdom Television. She produced for HealthWeek and Healing Quest on PBS and was a medical producer for WCVB-TV (Boston’s ABC News affiliate). She’s also covered the subject as a freelance writer for Body + Soul, Alternative Medicine, and Spa magazines. Portland currently lives in Boston and produces other natural health programming for Veria Living TV.
  • http://9pillsonline.com/viagra-vs-other-drugs.html John Hover

    Fairly interesting and
    topical article! It is so widespead to be healthy and follow a healthy
    lifestyle. Millions of people all over the world suffer from  and die of cancers. The risk of it can be
    reduced if you really want to live longer. Eating healthy good, doing regular
    exersises and no stress are the key points to prevent from cancers

    • KripaluEditor

      John,
      Thanks for your comment. It is interesting to note how many think heart disease only affects “older” people. A lot of these tips make sense for any age.
      ~Kim from Kripalu

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    Diseases are some
    of the main problems of human related to health. It is very important to stay
    healthy and strong to avoid diseases. Our body is a vulnerable thing for
    bacteria and viruses and these tiny organisms can paralyze and kill our body.
    That is why medicine has been introduced as a powerful discovery to cure
    various diseases and preserve the mankind. However, we always have our self
    responsibilities to prevent these diseases from attacking our body. We have
    to be knowledgeable about the things that might cause diseases to our body as
    well as the foods that maintain our healthy body. Thank you for sharing this
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    • http://stdtestkitreviews.com/ STDTestKitReviews

      In addition, performing regular exercises is one of the most essential factors that can prevent diseases as well as maintain a healthy body. For instance in preventing cardiovascular diseases, exercises can burn fats and cholesterol that can blog the arteries of the blood which eventually causes Heart diseases or heart attacks. Preventing heart diseases and other health problems are easy to do as long as we have our own self discipline and dedication to follow a healthy lifestyle rather than unhealthy one. Thank you again and you have shared a great idea about your article.