February is heart month; a month dedicated solely to spreading heart health awareness. And I am very passionate about this month, as last September my family was rocked by the sudden death of my aunt from a heart attack.
Without our hearts, we are nowhere–we’re dead, because the heart is responsible for providing our cells and organs with oxygen, nutrients and hormones needed. Our hearts are the life of our party, so we had better take care of it.
First I want to discuss symptoms that we should all look for, that could signal our tickers are trying to tell us something.
Shortness of breath: Forty percent (40%) of people who are having a heart don’t experience the usual symptoms of chest pressure and arm pain; instead they may feel very short of breath. If you just cannot seem to catch your breath no matter what you do, please, go to the hospital immediately.
Headaches: Hypertension, which is a precursor to a heart attack, generally presents zero symptoms. However, headaches can result from tight, restricted arteries preventing blood flow to the brain–be aware of this warning sign!
In addition to ensuring that you keep your stress levels in check–yes, stress is one of the leading causes of heart attack–it’s also important to infuse your daily diet with foods that keep the heart healthy and operating like the well-oiled machine that it is.
- Nuts/Seeds: Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of healthy fat, such as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. These help raise our HDL cholesterol (high density lipoproteins) and lower our LDL cholesterol (low density lipoproteins). When we have an abundance of low density lipoproteins floating around in our blood, we dramatically increase our risk of heart attack–so get nutty for nuts and seeds!
Quick Tip: Soak nuts or seeds in water or milk and then throw them into your smoothie!
- Berries: Berries are packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants that help to rid our bodies of free radicals. Free radicals are atoms without a bond, floating around and wreaking havoc. Antioxidants and vitamin C (which happens to be a vitamin AND an antioxidant) eliminates free radicals, which are also responsible for premature aging and, you guessed it, heart disease.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, it’s always a perfect time to put berries into a smoothie!