The heart is important because it is the pump that forces blood around the transit system of your body so it can stop off at stations such as your liver, kidneys, stomach, pancreas and other organs, to provide them with blood and nutrients for survival. It is relied on for the health of our organs and tissues, as blood carries important oxygen and other nutrients like vitamins and glucose. Without oxygen, organs and tissues die. And without nutrients like vitamins and glucose, organs and tissues cannot function properly.
The circulatory system is the network of blood vessels that snake around your body carrying oxygen from the heart and lungs to the organs, tissues and cells of the body. To function at its best the vessels need to be flexible to accommodate increases of pressure as well as clean and clear of blockages. Healthy blood vessels that are flexible, clean and clear provide healthy blood flow to the organs and tissues of the body without any impediment.
The big challenge with cardiovascular system health is that you cannot feel you have it. Even though the heart and blood vessels are putting more pressure on your heart to pump blood around your body, unless your doctor or healthcare practitioner measures your blood pressure, you will have no idea whether it is high, low or if it is considered to be normal. This inability to feel whether we have high blood pressure means we pay less attention to it and monitor it less.
Yes, along with reducing your saturated fat intake and ceasing smoking, there are a number of ways you can support your cardiovascular system health:
Choose a diet high in whole grains (such as wholegrain bread and pasta, brown rice and other whole grains). These help to reduce cholesterol uptake in the body.
Choose a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are high in fibre and key vitamins to ensure the health of your heart and blood vessels. Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are particularly beneficial due to their high levels of the heart protective vitamin Folate. Supplementing this key nutrient, along with its helper B complex vitamins, is also an option to discuss with your natural health practitioner.
Choose plant oils like avocado and olive oil. Consuming adequate plant oils each day provides the body with healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils. Omega 3 oils should always be the oil you consume the most, which leads us to our next suggestion…
Choose oily fish, nuts and seeds for plenty of Omega 3 oils. Whilst omega 3 oils are best obtained from oily fish like salmon and pilchards, if you are vegetarian flaxseeds are also extremely beneficial. If you cannot eat at least 5 meals of oily fish a week, consider a fish oil supplement taken daily to increase your intake. Flaxseed oil is a great alternative for vegans and vegetarians in need of some heart protective oils.
Take your medicines. When supporting the health of the heart and blood vessels, it is important to take medications as prescribed by your doctor and discuss their use with your natural healthcare practitioner when looking for supplementary support.
Remain vigilant. If you have a family history of high blood pressure or if you are over the age of 35 it is prudent to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis by your doctor and natural health practitioner.
Along with your medications and supplements, you may consider new research from UCLA in California1 which shows Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract™ supports the health of blood vessels.
Kyolic® Aged Garlic Extract™ is made from organic garlic bulbs, aged for up to 20 months to reduce its odour and increase its potency and antioxidant activity. The extract has also been studied by Australian scientists for its benefit in supporting cardiovascular system health. For more information on Kyolic® Aged Garlic Extract™ and its use alongside standard medications, be sure to talk to your healthcare practitioner for individualised advice.
1 Matsumoto, Nakinishi, Alani, Razaeian, Fahmy, Dailing, Flones, Broersen, Kitslaar and Budoff. Aged Garlic Extract reduces lower attenuation plaque in coronary arteries of patients with metabolic syndrome in a prospective randomized, double-blind study. The Journal of Nutrition. 146: 4275-4325.