Cardiovascular Health – Be Heart Smart & Consider Adding Omega 3’s to Your Diet!

Cardiovascular Health – Be Heart Smart & Consider Adding Omega 3’s to Your Diet!

We don’t think about our heart pumping or blood flowing to the body. Pause and think about it – Your Heart and Arteries are Vital to your health!

In the United States, individuals have become somewhat more aware of how to take care of their heart and blood vessels, but it still is a problem. According to some data, Americans are still consuming a high-fat diet, which increases the risk of elevated blood lipids (fats), which causes problems with blood vessels. Blood vessels need to be clean with healthy endothelial tissue so that blood flow can easily take place with good circulation throughout the body. Besides the heart, blood vessels circulate to the brain and all organs and tissues of the body. 

Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and a play critical role in maintaining the cardiovascular system. These cells help to regulate blood flow, vascular tone, platelet aggregation and other functions. The endothelial tissue is considered to be a gatekeeper of cardiovascular health to ensure blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid levels are all in balance. Endothelium needs to be at its best all during life including during the aging process. This tissue helps to promote vasodilatation through relaxing the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels. Also, they exert antioxidant properties. Diet, exercise, supportive nutrients are helpful.

The American Heart Association recommends that one should read labels and reduce the following in the diet: 

  • Saturated fat             
  • Trans fat  
  • Sodium             
  • Red meat  
  • Sweets             
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages


A few tips that may be helpful to help the heart and arteries:

Make it a point to add a variety of fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit including carrots, asparagus, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, and Brussels sprouts which contain a large amount of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. 

  • Try to cook and eat at home more than dining out                        
  • Maintain healthy blood sugar
  • Plan your meals in advance        
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep


Take supplements that provide nutritional support 

Exercise also is beneficial to increase blood flow and improve blood vessel health. A review was performed evaluating if exercise provides support to blood pressure. The study showed that medium intensity training is good for blood pressure. Although, individuals should always check with their physician prior to exercise if they have a health condition and/or are on medication.

Learn how to handle stress and fear since it influences heart health

In our society, fear is a major factor that effects millions of people. It indirectly has a harmful effect on the heart and blood vessels. Fear starts in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is a matrix of cells that initiate motor functions that respond. Fear causes the release of stress hormones and triggers the sympathetic nervous system. This has a negative effect over a period of time increasing body fat levels, blood pressure, problems with blood sugar, and an inflammatory response in the arteries. The objective is to find ways to handle stress and fear first by facing it and then finding ways to reduce it including with spiritual means.  

Can sleep effect my heart and blood vessels?

The answer is yes. Getting a good night’s sleep has been shown in research performed by the American Heart Association to be connected to healthy blood pressure.  

Nutrients to support the heart and blood vessels

Since blood lipid levels are important to keep the heart and arteries healthy there have been many studies performed looking at helpful dietary nutrients. In general, marine products and their bioactive nutrients have been shown to help lower blood lipids. Different marine products have been studied including algae.

Omega 3 fatty acids are known to have a whole spectrum of health benefits. They are considered essential since the body can’t manufacture them. Therefore, they need to be consumed from the diet. Both clinical and research on large populations of people shows that omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish and fish oils provide protection to the heart and blood vessels.  

The omega 3 fatty acids benefit heart function, blood pressure and flow, helping to maintain blood lipids (fat), blood platelets, protecting against oxidative damage. They also provide support to the body’s inflammatory response pathway.  

Population studies and clinical research demonstrate that omega 3 fatty acids help to keep blood vessels clear and suggest that they aid in improving cardiovascular endothelial tissue.

Investigators state that omega 3 fatty acid levels in the blood is a good predictor of mortality. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high omega 3 levels in the blood demonstrated to increase life expectance by almost 5 years. The individuals consumed oily fish with increased omega 3’s on a regular basis.  

Health authorities do suggest to consume at least 2 meals with fish every week for the general population.  

Although, what about those that are vegetarians? One vegetarian source of omega 3’s is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in some nuts. ALA is converted to EPA in the body. ALA is found in walnuts, seeds such as flaxseed, chia, hemp, and various vegetable oils.

Marine algae is also a great source of omega 3’s for vegetarians. It provides a good source of  DHA, EPA and ALA. It has been shown to provide support to the endothelial tissue in blood vessels that helps to maintain normal lipid levels. In Japan, the dietary consumption of seaweed, fish, soy products, fruit, vegetables, and green tea have been shown to be heart and blood vessel protective.  

In summary, it is important to think about taking care of the heart and arteries that we may take for granted. Diet, reducing stress, a good night’s sleep and exercise are all  important, but also consider adding omega 3 fatty acids to the daily diet since they are not made in the body. Marine algae is a great way to consume omega 3’s especially if you are looking for vegetarian sources. There are many benefits of omega 3 fatty acids that have been studied.  

 

Always check with your practitioner if you have any health conditions and/or take medicine prior to exercise or making changes to your diet.  

 

References

American Heart Association.  https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/aha-diet-and-lifestyle-recommendations. Last updated November, 2021.

Lu Z, Song Y, Chen H, et al.  A Mixed Comparisons of Aerobic Training With Different Volumes and Intensities of Physical Exercise ..… A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis. Front Cardiovasc Med.  2022;8:770975.

McBurney M, Tintle NL, Vasan RS, et al.  Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort.  Amer J Clin Nutrit.  2021;114(4)1447–1454.

Mori TA.  Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular ….  Food Funct.  2014;5(9):2004-19.

Ryu B, Kim Y-S, Jeon Y-J.  Seaweeds and their natural products for preventing cardiovascular associated dysfunction.  Mar Drugs.  2021;19(507):1-13.

Yamagata K.  Review. Prevention of cardiovascular disease through modulation of endothelial cell function by dietary seaweed intake.  Phytomed Plus.  2021;1(2)100026:1-9.

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