Heart diseases are one of the world’s leading causes of death claiming 17.9 million lives each year. World Heart Federation created World Heart day that falls on 29 September each year, as a way to inform people around the world about cardiovascular disease. Heart health is considered important because most of the time its signs are as life-threatening as the disease itself. With the celebration of Heart day, it is hoped that people are more aware of the importance of a healthy heart. So in the spirit of celebrating Heart day, let’s learn a little about why heart health is so important and ways that we can do to improve it.
The importance of maintaining heart health
Every day, our heart beats around 100,000 times sending oxygen-filled blood through our body. Pumping around 7,500 liters of blood through 60,000 miles (around 96.000 km) of blood vessels, this vital organ that is the size of a fist is responsible for making sure that our organ and tissue stays alive and healthy. Any damage to the heart can disrupt the health of our other organs.
Lack of blood circulating through our organs could lead to multiple cardiovascular diseases. As stated in World Heart Federation Websites, a lack of blood supply to the heart muscle can cause coronary heart disease. And for some people, the first sign of it is a heart attack. Lack of blood circulation from a weak heart could also cause a stroke, that is what happens when the blood supply to the heart is interrupted.
Heart health is also associated with healthy blood vessels. As a carrier of blood through our body, it is important to ensure that the arteries are not narrowed or blocked. A narrowed or blocked artery could mean many things, one of which is an unhealthy diet of fatty food that could cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries. The plaque formation can grow large enough to significantly reduce the blood’s flow through an artery. When a plaque formation becomes brittle or inflamed, it may rupture and trigger a blood clot to form.
Heart diseases can be scary, and for some people with a family history of heart disease, the risk factors of it cannot be modified. While other risk factors such as high blood pressure can be modified through lifestyle modifications and even treatments. It is important to remember that when it comes to the health of our heart, our lifestyle or day-to-day behavior influences it greatly. Unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and harmful use of alcohol are the behavioral risk factors stated by the World Heart Federation that can cause conditions where it could turn into a risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fruits and vegetables that help maintain a healthy heart
While it may be scary to read about the threat of heart disease, modification into a healthier lifestyle can be done to reduce its risk. A healthier lifestyle means a balanced diet with less salt, sugar, and saturated and trans fat. Along with consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables.
The World Health Organization’s recommended 5 servings per day as a minimum for fruits and vegetable intake. 5 servings mean around 400 grams of fruits and vegetables that can be adjusted to what fruit and vegetable are preferable. But this is just the recommended minimum amount, the more fruits and vegetables we consume, the less the urge we have to consume processed or fatty food. An article from Harvard Health Publishing said that doubling the recommended servings into 10 or around 800 grams of fruits and vegetables could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 28%.
Harvard Health Publishing also stated that fruits and vegetables that seems to offer the greatest benefits are apples, pears, oranges and other citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers, and green and yellow vegetables.
Eating servings of fruits and vegetables will fulfill our daily intake of much-needed nutrients, especially fiber that seems to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure along with improving blood vessel function. All of that may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Growing fruits and vegetables at home to maintain quality
Fresh fruits and vegetables are preferable for a balanced diet. Canned fruits may be tempting and easily found but most of the time it contains extra sugar and preservatives. Instead, choose fresh fruit and vegetable from your local grocer, or better yet plant your own!
Planting your fruits and vegetables means that you’ll know how it is grown, like the important level of excess chemicals that are being used when growing them. It also means that you’ll know the quality of the fruits and vegetables it produces and have easy access to an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
If you are a beginner in planting, try starting with relatively easy fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, tomato, and citrus fruits. These fruits and vegetables can be planted in a pot if you have limited soil space and they can easily thrive with Indonesia sunshine most of the time. When you feel confident enough, branch out to heart health recommended fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and apples. There are plenty of other fruits and vegetables to choose from and can be adjusted to your preference.