How Does Diet Affect Cardiovascular Strength and Health?

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Cardiovascular Disease Defined

  • One of the top killers in America is cardiovascular disease, or disease related to the blood vessels of your heart. There are many types of cardiovascular diseases that are responsible for death. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for more American deaths than cancer. It is a wonder that so many people die from cardiovascular disease, yet for many the chances of dying from it could have been reduced by two things: diet and exercise.

    The heart's arteries are the vessels that carry blood to the body, while the veins make the return trip. Arteries and veins need oxygen and a clear path to perform their circulatory function. If there is anything that impedes their paths or causes the vessels' walls to harden, the heart must pump harder and harder to get the blood going, creating unnecessary strain. With coronary heart disease, the leading cause of heart attacks, plaque forms along the cardiovascular walls and restricts the blood flow. The heart becomes overtaxed and some parts fail, causing a heart attack. So how does this deadly plaque form? It can be from the foods that you eat.

Plaque and Cardiovascular Health

  • When you eat foods high in saturated fat, you introduce harmful lipids and "bad" cholesterol (LDL) to the blood. Those lipids and cholesterol tear at your arteries. White blood cells try to get rid of the lipids. Unfortunately, platelets try to help by causing a "clot," thinking the body is losing blood from the tear. When the platelets, white blood cells, LDL and lipids get together along with those torn artery muscle fibers, they form plaque. Over time this plaque builds up to the point where your heart is strained.

Good Heart Foods

  • Although saturated fats are part of a diet that can negatively affect cardiovascular health, there are healthful foods that can put a positive spin on your heart's vessels. Research shows that dark chocolates, nuts and wines are foods that reduce LDL. Consuming foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids are another great way to keep your blood vessels in shape. Foods that contain Omega-3-like fatty fish- introduce acids that reduce fats in the blood vessels. Canola oil, soy foods and leafy greens also contain good Omega-3 levels. Although it is suggested that raising your good cholesterol (HDL) fights cardiovascular disease, there is no actual foods that have been scientifically proven to raise HDL.

    With a combination of moderate exercise and a good diet, you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim to one of America's top killers.

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