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February brings us the ever popular Valentine’s Day with hearts and cupids and candy and flowers. February has also been designated as American Heart Month in an effort to encourage people to focus on their cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and is something we should all take note of. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that one person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death

Although there are a multitude of contributing factors to the development of cardiovascular disease, there are also many things we can do to support heart health. The National Institutes of Health provides great information on Heart Healthy Living that will outline some basics for you, including heart-healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, stop smoking, regular physical activity, manage stress, and get good quality sleep.  None of this is anything that we all don’t already know, but it’s just some simple reminders for us to take note of as we start a new year – diet and physical activity (exercise) will always be part of our health equation.

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/american_heart_month.htm

A Heart Healthy Diet

No matter what condition or challenge we’re talking about or trying to mitigate, diet usually is one of the areas of focus. The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” may be more on point that just being an “old saying”. Can you think of a time when diet wasn’t part of the discussion when you were talking about health?  

So let’s look at one of the most noted diet recommendations to support heart health that has been around for decades. Introduced in 1997, many of you may have heard of the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). And high blood pressure (hypertension) is a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease. Your health care provider may recommend the DASH Diet because it has been shown to lower blood pressure and the bad LDL cholesterol. The DASH Diet doesn’t require you to eat “special” foods, but outlines food groups to choose from, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish and poultry. It also suggests the foods to avoid, like high saturated fat foods (red meat and full fat dairy) and sweets or sugar sweetened drinks. The DASH diet also recommends limiting your sodium (salt) intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. That’s about 1 teaspoon of table salt. And if you are consuming packaged foods, your sodium limit could be met with just one pre-packaged meal! That’s why it is important to read your nutritional labels if you are not eating or preparing fresh foods.

Getting 4-5 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables daily, which is recommended with the DASH Diet, can seem overwhelming for those of us who are not used to that. An easy way to increase those fruit and vegetable servings is with a smoothie! It is easy to get 2-3 servings of those fresh (or frozen) nutrient dense foods all blended into an easy and tasty beverage. Experiment with smoothies! You may not like a spinach salad, but adding spinach to a smoothie with pineapple, banana, and berries might be the best way for you to get that salad – in your drink! You can find so many recipes online for smoothies, but be adventurous and mix up your own personal blend.

Supplements for Heart Health

(NOTE: Always check with your health care provider whenever you are changing your diet, exercise routine or supplement regime)

There is no magic pill to fix any condition, but there are supplements that can support a healthy cardiovascular system. One such supplement is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10, found in highest concentration in the heart, is needed in every cell for basic cell function. CoQ10 may be depleted with age and with certain prescription medications, so to support that heart, a quality CoQ10 supplement should be considered.  The Country Life Vegan CoQ10 is an excellent option.

Supplements that help the body produce nitric oxide (NO) might also be considered. Nitric oxide is known to support vascular health.

Country Life® Vitamins has an amazing product, Cellular Cardio, that was formulated specifically for supporting the cardiovascular system. This unique product provides vascular health support with clinically studied ViNitrox™.  ViNitrox contains grape and apple polyphenols, which support the production of nitric oxide, important for vascular health and supporting the muscles in the lining of the circulatory system.

Exercise

You don’t have to become a body builder, but getting regular exercise (physical activity) is important for maintaining overall health as well as a heart health. Start slowly if you haven’t been doing regular exercise. Walking is a great activity and you don’t have to join a gym to do it. Weight bearing exercise is also important as you develop your routine. And starting with as little as 5 pound weights will make a difference. Research suggests 30 minutes per day of some type of physical activity should be our goal. Take a walk with a friend around the block. There are many ways to incorporate movement in your daily routine. Focus on what works best for you.

Nothing should replace a healthy diet and regular exercise to keep your body and your heart in its best condition. However, when you are looking for a little something extra to fill in those nutritional gaps, you can always count on Country Life® Vitamins to provide you with high quality supplement choices to #PowerYourGreatness!

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