World Heart Day is an international awareness day for heart health and heart conditions. It was first celebrated on September 29th, 2000, and is now observed annually all over the world. The awareness day was started by the World Heart Federation (WHF) which is dedicated to helping everyone become heart-healthy.
What is World Heart Day?
The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the world of the morbidity rates for CVDs, especially heart disease and stroke.
From the CDC: Approximately 647,000 deaths per year in the United States are caused by heart disease.
From the World Health Organization (WHO): 17.6 million people died in 2016 from CVDs.
When is World Heart Day?
World Heart Day occurs annually on September 29th.
Changing Your Diet for Your Heart
Now that you know exactly what World Heart Day is, and when to celebrate it, let’s talk about getting heart-healthy and encouraging your friends to do the same.
Exercise should be one of the first things that come to mind when you think about taking care of your health. However, without good food, you won’t have the energy to exercise.
So you can’t just avoid eating food, instead, you need to add more of the healthy foods you enjoy to your diet that will also keep you healthy.
Foods to Eat for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
As an easy rule of thumb to start changing your diet, The American Heart Association recommends adding colorful foods to your meals. As you’ll see in the rest of this article, colorful fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of essential nutrients that reduce the risk of heart disease.
Dark leafy greens are an essential element for preventing heart disease. These types of greens are high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamin D. Together, these essentials nutrients support red blood cell function, support vein health, support blood health, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Salad might be your first thought for what it means to eat a healthy diet, but you should be selective about the kind of salad you eat. For instance, Romain and iceberg lettuce actually have little to no nutritional value, so you will be better off eating one of the following in your salads:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
Grains are one of the staples of the human diet. Wheat and other grains have three important parts, the germ, the endosperm, and the bran. Processed white flour or enhanced flours remove the external parts of the grain, which also removes a significant amount of nutrients.
Make the switch to whole grain foods and whole grain products to keep your heart healthy.
How do whole grains Promote Health?
Whole wheat foods have been shown to reduce risks of heart disease thanks to their high levels of essential nutrients. High-quality whole-grain foods carry many of the following nutrients:
- B Vitamins
Heart-Healthy Grains to Include in Your Diet
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat Flour
Fish and Fish Oil
These foods are high in natural omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for healthy brain function, heart health, and blood pressure. Omega 3s can also reduce inflammation, regulate heart rhythm, and slow down the rate of plaque build-up in your veins and blood vessels.
To get enough of this nutrient essential for your vascular health, try to eat fish at least twice per week, or talk to your doctor about taking an omega 3 supplement. Other fruits and vegetables may also help you maintain healthy omega 3 levels.
The best foods for omega 3s are:
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
This group of foods is high in carbohydrates, viscous soluble fiber, plant protein, natural vitamins, and trace elements. Thanks to the high amounts of fiber in legumes, they take more time to digest and improve insulin and glucose responses in the digestive tract. As a result, the body can use insulin and glucose more efficiently.
What Kind of Legumes to Eat
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Kidney Beans
One of the key nutrients in this root vegetable is potassium. With adequate amounts of potassium in your diet, your body will be more efficient at eliminating excess sodium from your body. As a result, your body will have more stable blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Besides Vitamin C, oranges are also a source of pectin fiber. Pectin reduces unhealthy cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and reduces the risk of heart disease. You should also include oranges in your diet because they are also a good source of potassium.
Regularly eating two or more servings of yogurt per week has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease risks in both men and women (Buendia, et al, 2018). Other benefits of eating yogurt include improved digestion, reduced risk of stroke, and reduced hypertension.
Foods with Sterols and Stanols
These natural compounds are chemically similar to cholesterol and are found in some plant-based foods, as well as fruits and vegetables. Even though they are similar to cholesterol, they actually lower the body’s cholesterol levels and therefore reduce risks of heart disease, obesity, varicose veins, spider veins, and other vascular conditions.
Foods High in Sterols and Stanols
- Nut-Based Flours (Almond Flour)
- Wheat Germ
- Corn Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Olive Oil
- Black Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Brussel Sprouts
Other Fruits and Vegetables
Yet another superfood on this list, pomegranates are packed with good nutrients for heart health and overall health. Limited small studies have shown that people who drink pomegranate juice regularly showed slower rates of vein plaque accumulation and slower buildup of cholesterol.
However, if you’re taking cholesterol medications such as statins, you should talk to your doctor before trying pomegranate juice. Statins may interact badly with pomegranate juice.
Packed with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and potassium, strawberries should be a staple in your diet. Strawberries also provide high amounts of vitamin C, so they make great replacements for when oranges are out of season. Finally, the nutrients in strawberries and other berries can help lower systolic blood pressure, which is a measurement of the pressure in the veins as the heart beats.
This sour-sweet fruit is another source of inflammation-reducing antioxidants. Cherries are also packed with essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly. If you exercise regularly or are trying to get used to a regular exercise routine, cherry juice has been shown to help athletes recover from intense training.
Cherries also contain potassium, which we know helps regulate blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Spicy and fragrant, garlic improves blood flow and circulation and staves off heart disease. If you’re worried about smelling like garlic, but still want the benefits, odorless garlic oil pills are a smell-free way to improve your health. Additionally, garlic helps lower LDL cholesterol which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Treatment for Cardiovascular Disease in Nashville TN
CVD is often preventable with healthy diet and exercise habits as well as regular annual health checks with your primary care physician. However, if you do develop any type of CVD and begin experiencing health problems, you’ll need to work closely with your doctor to diagnose the cause of your condition and evaluate your treatment options.
Depending on which type of CVD you present with, one of our Nashville vascular surgeons can provide treatment specific to your condition.
Vascular Surgery at The Surgical Clinic
Fifteen board-certified vascular surgeons serve patients at our locations throughout middle Tennessee. We have seen and provided treatment for all types of vascular conditions including, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), carotid artery disease, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), abdominal aortic aneurysms, varicose veins, spider veins, and many other types of vascular diseases.
Our highly skilled vascular surgeons provide both traditional and minimally invasive vascular surgery treatments for our patients. When you visit with one of our surgeons, they will carefully review your medical history, your symptoms, and your overall health to help you choose the best treatment option for you.