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The Link Between Nutrition and Cardiovascular Disease

There is a strong link between diet, physical exercise and cardiovascular disease.

The correct nutrition can go a long way in treating cardiovascular disease, especially when it comes to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

High Blood Pressure Humour

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease.  The high pressure causes blood vessels to narrow, making it harder for blood to flow through and putting extra strain on the cardiovascular system.

Many people who are diagnosed with high blood pressure are able to reduce their readings by changing their diet and increasing their level of physical activity.

This can sometimes mean the need for medication is eliminated or at least a lower dose is required.

Reducing intake of saturated fats and sodium are advised if you have high blood pressure.   Weight loss, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and regular exercise are also recommended.  An increase in potassium and calcium-rich foods is also beneficial.

Foods rich in potassium and calcium include spinach, almonds, sesame seeds, parsley, low-fat dairy products, dates and bananas.

Good and bad cholesterol

Cholesterol is another important factor for cardiovascular health.

When too much LDL, or bad cholesterol is present in the blood, it builds up on the walls of the arteries and forms a plaque-like substance which causes the arteries to narrow.

If a clot forms in the narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke can follow.

People diagnosed with high LDL cholesterol should aim to decrease their levels of LDL and increase levels of good cholesterol, HDL.

HDL is thought to protect against heart attacks by carrying cholesterol away from the arteries back to the liver and out of the body.

Levels of bad cholesterol can be reduced and good cholesterol increased by eating less saturated fats and trans fatty acids.

Choose lean meats, low-fat dairy products and fat-free margarines and avoid products made with hydrogenated oils, such as pastries.

Intake of dietary cholesterol should be reduced by eating less fatty meats and egg yolks and intake of soluble fibre increased by adding more fruit, pulses and oats to the diet.

Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are beneficial so choose rapeseed or olive oil when cooking.

If you are overweight you should aim to lose weight by reducing portion sizes and taking more exercise.

What about triglycerides?

Triglycerides are fats made by the body.  Many who suffer with a high total cholesterol level have elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood.  This can be due to being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, high alcohol intake or high carbohydrate intake.

Triglyceride levels can be decreased by eating more omega-3 rich foods, including oily fish and linseeds, reducing alcohol intake, cutting down on high carbohydrate foods and losing weight.

By reducing your intake of saturated fats and adopting a healthier lifestyle you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

[box type=”important”]Weight loss, regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake and quitting smoking are all key to maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.[/box]

 

 

Qualifying as a nutritionist has changed my life! I enjoy reading about new and exciting developments happening in the world of nutrition and health and love to share my knowledge with others. Writing articles enables me to build on my other passion - writing! Please visit my blog at thisisnutrition.com and follow me on Twitter @thisisnutrition

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