TAG | american heart association
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, accounting for 25% of all the deaths in the U.S. You may be thinking that if you don’t have heart disease in your family you’re in the clear, but think again. While genetics and age play a role, most experts agree that certain lifestyle factors can promote heart disease. You shouldn’t wait until you’re diagnosed with heart disease to take action. Your doctor will help you keep track of important numbers such as fasting blood glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure, but here are some other numbers to keep in mind when planning your heart healthy diet.
500 – 1,000
Omega-3 fats found in fish oil are known to support healthy cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends 500 – 1,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids if oily fish is lacking in your diet. For maximum cardiovascular support try a pharmaceutical grade omega-3 supplement such as Super Critical Omega. This powerful fish oil provides over 1,000 mg of omega-3 in just one softgel, plus 1,000 IU of vitamin D3, another essential nutrient.
Try to consume about 35 grams of fiber or more per day. The American Heart Association says that dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. This may be due to fiber’s role in absorbing and helping to eliminate cholesterol from the body. Because it’s tough to get enough fiber in the diet, try adding a high quality fiber supplement to your daily routine.
A low sodium diet with just 1,500 mg or less of sodium per day can help prevent high blood pressure and heart disease. To reduce your sodium intake, try reducing store-bought and processed foods and use fresh pepper and other herbs instead of salt when seasoning foods.
Keep your sweet tooth tamed with just 6 or fewer teaspoons of added sugars per day. This number may look low, but the average American consumes over 20 teaspoons per day! Research has shown that there is a correlation between high sugar consumption and heart disease risk. Try fresh fruit or dark chocolate to curb your longing for sweets, or try a natural supplement designed to help ease sugar cravings.
So how do your numbers stack up? If you’re not sure, try keeping track for a couple of weeks to see how heart healthy your diet is. Check out other heart healthy supplements that provide even more cardiovascular support with oat beta glucan, CoQ10 and hawthorn. Eat whole, fresh and organic foods whenever possible, and keep an eye on the nutrition facts label. Arming yourself with information is the best way to stay on track toward a healthy heart.
Many people are familiar with the term “omega-3.” And many people also know that good sources of omega-3 are fish and flaxseeds. But did you know that these two sources contain different types of omega-3? Flaxseed contains the omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and fish contains two different types of omega-3: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
ALA actually converts into EPA, which then can convert into DHA (and vice versa). These conversions, however, occur on a very limited basis. ALA only converts to EPA at a rate of between 8 and 20 percent, and only converts to DHA (by way of EPA) at a rate of between 0.5 and 9 percent. Many people take omega-3 in the ALA form, like flaxseed oil, thinking that they are getting all the benefits of omega-3s, but they’re not getting the whole story. Certainly ALA is a beneficial omega-3. But most of the benefits of ALA are thought to be due to its eventual conversion into EPA and DHA—especially when it comes to heart health.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlights this point. Data based on 3,277 healthy Danish adults found that a higher intake of ALA over 23 years was not associated with a reduction in risk of ischemic heart disease—the most common form of heart disease, and the most common cause of death in the U.S. But intake of other long-chain omega-3s—like EPA and DHA—was associated with a reduced risk.
The researchers found that intakes ranging from 0.45 to 11.2 grams per day were associated with a 38 percent reduced risk of ischemic heart disease for women. This is a large range, certainly, and higher doses of EPA and DHA should only be taken under the consult of a doctor. But the American Heart Association does recommend that people consume the equivalent of 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA (not ALA) if they are healthy and want to maintain heart health; 1 gram per day if they have coronary heart disease; and 2 to 4 grams per day if they have high triglycerides.
If you are taking an omega-3 supplement, take a look at the label and see how much EPA and DHA you are getting. This is what you should be looking for in a high-quality omega-3.