by: Jessica Arnold
“Turn it up Mommy!” my two-year-old Joss shouts as Selena Gomez & The Scene’s “Love You like a Love Song” begins to play in the car (which is the usual backseat command for any catchy pop song). Selena begins singing the chorus line; “I, I love you like a love song baby, and I keep hittin’ re-peat (this is where Joss’ little voice chimes in) peat-peat-peat-peat-peat!” This repetitive “peat” resembling the sound of a thumping heart-beat is her most favorite part of the song. And with the frequency at which this song comes on, with all the peat-peat, heart-beat sounds, and this being Heart Awareness Month, I am reminded of the importance of keeping your heart healthy.
Heart disease is the number one killer of women, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Being proactive by making healthy lifestyle choices is something you can begin today. Here are several tips on loving your heart and reducing your risk of heart disease.
♥ Start with Breakfast
Reduce fat and cholesterol intake by having oatmeal in the morning. Oatmeal removes cholesterol and contains lignans which protect against heart disease. It also provides high levels of fiber, low levels of fat, and high levels of protein. The unique antioxidants found in oatmeal also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol. Another healthy option is having whole-grain or sprouted grain toast substituting coconut oil as a spread instead of butter. Coconut oill is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps prevent high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Coconut oil is antimicrobial, anti-fungal, boosts metabolism, increases energy, is great for skin, aids weight loss, helps diabetes, and also can provide health benefits for your baby. I personally have it on hand in my kitchen at all times. You can read more about the general benefits here.
This is a list of 5 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil for your Baby.
♥ Cut down on salt. Too much salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Many studies show a direct link between sodium intake and high blood pressure. The kidneys cannot process and eliminate salt beyond a certain point, which creates blood pressure in the arteries. If salt consumption is not maintained, high blood pressure can lead to kidney failure as well as heart failure, heart attack and stroke. The best suggestion in eliminating unnecessary salt from your diet is to avoid most prepackaged foods, like frozen dinners, salted snack foods, canned soups and sauces, canned vegetables, instant cereals, processed cheeses and lunch meats. Start checking the sodium on nutrition labels, many breakfast cereals and breads that appear healthy contain high levels of salt.
♥ Just Breathe.
“Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”-Andrew Weil, M.D.
Stress left unmanaged can lead to physical problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains or irregular heartbeats. Taking the time to remember to breathe in deeply several times a day can help with stress levels. Yoga is also beneficial in reducing stress. Yoga teaches that controlling your breathing can help control your body and quiet your mind. The Motherhood Center offers a variety of yoga classes for all stages of motherhood.
♥ Sleep Peacefully
New research published by the American Heart Association says tossing and turning all night more than once a week increases your risk of heart disease by at least 27%. The National Sleep Foundation suggests turning off electronic devices an hour before going to bed to help eliminate restless sleep. Researchers say that staring at light-emitting screens during the hour before going to sleep inhibits the proper release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s natural sleep cycles and prevents quality rest.
♥ Omega 3 Fish Oil
Including heart, healthy dietary supplements such as omega 3 fish oils in your diet may promote a healthy heart by inhibiting the formation of blood clots. There are many benefits in consuming omega 3 supplements, such as prevention of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, cure of depression, anxiety, improvement of memory and overall fitness, and reduction of inflammation throughout the body. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and trout are ideal sources of Omega-3 fats, however, due to the increasing problem of mercury contamination in fish, you may want to go the supplementation route.
♥ Get your heart pumping
Aerobic exercise decreases heart disease by lowering blood pressure. Any activity that raises your heart rate is aerobic, such as jogging, swimming, bike riding, or dancing. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity at least three times a week is recommended, ideally, thirty minutes a day is best. Just like pumping iron builds stronger arm muscles (which way is the beach?), repetitive exertions raise your heart rate, creating a stronger heart. A stronger heart has an easier time pumping blood, which allows it to relax more, expanding your arteries and creating space for blood to flow easily. Any exercise is better than no exercise and if that word bothers you just take some advice from Joss, turn up this song, throw inhibition to the wind and dance like no one is watching (or like you are 2-years-old).