Every February since 1964 is American Heart Month, a time to increase awareness and have conversations about how to maintain our cardiovascular health and escape the grip of modern society’s most harmful health threat.
Women are especially vulnerable to heart issues due to the composition and size of our blood vessels and muscular walls.* Every year, we lose 1 out of 5 of our sisters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.*
You don’t have to be middle aged to find yourself at risk, either: a whopping 44% of women over 20 are living with some form of heart issue.* While diet, exercise and lifestyle are contributing factors to heart health, our uniquely female biological makeup that governs pregnancy, menopause and emotional health can also influence the health and function of our tickers. Hormonal birth control, difficult pregnancies, early menopause, metabolic challenges and chronic relationship stress can raise our health risks.*
No matter your age or health concerns, making minor changes in what you eat, how you move, and how you spend your time can immensely improve your heart health. The emphasis is on small – not stringent – tweaks to your daily choices and routine.
To get you started, here’s a roundup of practical daily interventions for keeping you young at heart.
For lower LDL cholesterol: Soluble fiber
As of 2018, women are now more likely than men to experience unhealthy cholesterol levels.* LDL is the “bad cholesterol” you want to keep to a minimum, as is total cholesterol and triglycerides, another type of lipid. And HDL is the “good cholesterol” you want to maximize.
These lipids can oxidize and degrade when an imbalance of free radical activity forces them to undergo harmful chemical reactions, leading to what we generally refer to as ‘high cholesterol’.
But soluble fiber found in a group of plant foods that includes unprocessed oats, legumes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, apples and pears has the ability to reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed into your bloodstream. Eating 5-10 grams or more of soluble fiber every day can decrease your LDL, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For balanced HDL cholesterol and triglycerides: Omega-3 fats
The oldie but goodie of heart-healthy eating is omega-3, the fatty acid found in the fattiest of fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna and trout – varieties we don’t eat nearly enough in our flaky white-fish society.
The fat and oil from these food sources has been specifically shown to increase levels of good cholesterol while decreasing levels of triglycerides. But if you don’t have the palate for fatty fish, you can get small amounts of omega-3s from almonds, walnuts and flaxseed.
By incorporating regular servings of omega-3s along with soluble fiber into your diet, you can balance your lipid levels and improve your cardiovascular health.
For supple arteries and blood vessels: Vitamins D3 and K2
There’s a bank of clinical research showing that the combination of vitamin D3 and vitamin K2, which are the most bioactive forms of each vitamin, can substantially improve cardiovascular health. While the benefits of vitamin D for heart health and mood have been widely recognized, vitamin K is the unsung hero stepping out of its partner’s shadow.
A patented form of vitamin K2 derived from flowers called K2 MK-7 has been clinically shown to support normal arterial function and maintain healthy blood vessels when combined with vitamin D.
One of vitamin K’s key roles is to efficiently shuttle calcium to places where you need it, like bones and teeth, and away from places where you don’t want it to linger, like your arteries.
Find the perfect balance and dose of this heart-healthy pair in our Vitamin D + K2 formula featuring patented, plant-based K2 MK-7.
For balanced blood pressure: Pomegranates and grape seed
Your cardiovascular system is the hub of circulatory activity. Blood pressure levels indicate just how hard your heart muscle has to work to circulate oxygenated blood throughout the body.
The walls of well-functioning blood vessels, from large arteries to small capillaries, are normally pliable and relaxed. When they oxidize, they stiffen and lose elasticity, requiring your heart to exert more force to push blood through. This stress can lead to elevated blood pressure levels – known as the “silent killer” due to the lack of warning signs.*
Pomegranate fruit is uniquely concentrated in punicalagins, a type of heart-protective antioxidant shown to promote balanced BP levels in humans in 8 weeks.* And, while grapes are known for their heart-healthy benefits, grape seeds possess the highest levels of phenolic activity.*
Blood Pressure Balance combines clinical levels of premium pomegranate extract and winery-grade grape seed extracts to support normal blood pressure, healthy arterial function and healthy circulation.
For a healthy heartbeat: magnesium
Magnesium is recognized as an essential mineral that helps reduce muscle cramps and produces a zen state of mind, but this charged-up mineral is also an electrolyte involved in at least 300 enzymatic processes related to muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and absorption of calcium, potassium and vitamin D.**
Specifically, magnesium is one of the top electrolytes needed to help keep your cardiovascular system’s electrical wiring from malfunctioning, thus, maintaining a healthy, smooth rhythm. Additionally, this supercharged mineral supports normal blood pressure, and its flair for fighting oxidation makes it a powerful aid for promoting overall cardiovascular health.
In fact, a 2019 study review published in Cardiology Research and Practice implicated magnesium deficiency as being at the heart of a wide range of cardiovascular and other health issues.*
Recharge your body’s electrical system with our refreshing, homemade electrolyte drink made with Unwind magnesium powder. It combines two high-absorption forms of magnesium – malate and glycinate – in an easy-to-mix powder.
For an overall healthy heart: antioxidants
Antioxidants are nutrients or compounds that neutralize excess oxidation and help repair damaged tissues and cells. Some are found in plants, such as polyphenols and vitamin C to help cellular structures withstand environmental stressors; others are produced in the body, such as glutathione, to inhibit the effects of oxidation.
Increase your internal army of antioxidants by increasing your dietary intake of colorful fruits and vegetables. Each pigment supplies different types of active compounds to fight free radicals.
And for extra support, supplement with one of Body Kitchen’s heart-healthy formulas for science-backed extracts and ingredients you can trust to be safe and authentic.
For getting your heart pumping: aerobic activity
Your heart is a muscle that, like any muscle in your body, benefits from the ‘strength training’ of regular, heart-pumping physical activity. When it comes to the best exercise for heart health, aerobic activities, such as brisk walking, jogging, dancing and bike riding, are the winners, hands down.
By strengthening the heart muscle, aerobic workouts help increase the amount of oxygen in the blood that’s available to flow throughout the body, as well as enhances lung capacity and efficient removal of toxins. Plus, the release of feel-good endorphins is great for enhancing mood, memory and cognition.
Combined, these benefits can reduce your heart risk factors and improve your overall health.
For filling your heart: social connections
Equally important for strong cardio health is a strong network of social connections. Whether it be through tight family, close friendships, community volunteering, and even work colleagues, having strong bonds to others fosters a sense of belonging that’s proven to be good for your heart.
And where a life-threatening health issue is involved, those loving relationships can mean a 50% better chance of survival, according to Brigham Young University Study.*
To put the importance of social networking into further context, researchers reported that having low social interactions was akin to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being an alcoholic, is more harmful than being sedentary, and twice as harmful as being overweight!
So, if you’ve been feeling the tinge of isolation lately, combine tools from this heart health toolkit by bringing extended family together for a healthy meal, schedule regular walks with your partner or neighbors, or blast your favorite playlist as you dance the night away with your closest buds.
These activities may not feel like a doctor-prescribed program to get your cholesterol and blood pressure in check – but that’s the point! Because the heart healthy program that works is the one you enjoy and can live with in your daily life.
In honor of American Heart Month 2024, we want you to honor your heart by locking in the healthy solutions you need with a Buy 2, Get 1 FREE offer on all Body Kitchen supplements. Whether you want to restore cholesterol balance, support your blood pressure, or reduce harmful oxidation, stock up in February with our B2G1 offer!