Living a healthy lifestyle is on trend, especially with young people. You’re following the latest health food diet and hitting the gym every other night. But how often do you think about the health of your heart? Millennials are more health conscious than many groups before them. Health is trendy. Even so, many of us focus on the obvious benefits of a healthy lifestyle: looking and feeling great. Many millennial women are ignoring heart health. Despite the fact that they are pursuing healthier lifestyles, it's often ignored.
About eight million women in the United States are living with heart disease. 440,000 women have heart attacks every year (9,000 of those women are under the age of 45). Heart health is the number one killer of women in the US. Make no mistake, your heart health is of the utmost importance!
Heart Health Basics
We all know that cardio is important, but do you know why? When you do cardio, your blood flows to your limbs and throughout your body. As the increased blood flow returns to your heart, the left ventricle must enlarge. The left ventricle becomes stronger and is able to pump more blood at every beat over time- even if you are at rest. That means your heart works better and that your resting heart rate is lower.
Exercise Fights Cholesterol
Cholesterol is something that most people under the age of 40 don’t think about. 600,000 people in the United States have Familial Hypercholesterolemia. That is a hereditary genetic disorder that causes early onset heart problems [ref] 2 https://thefhfoundation.org/surprising-familial-hypercholesterolemia-statistics/[/ref]. No matter how old you are, some people are more likely to develop high cholesterol levels. Making sure that your cholesterol levels are in check now will ensure your heart health as you age.
Make sure that you are in a healthy weight range for your height. This will help keep your heart healthy and cholesterol in check. Exercise fights cholesterol in a few ways. During exercise, the blood flow that we discussed earlier helps to awaken special enzymes in the body. The enzymes push cholesterol in the blood to the liver. From the liver excretes cholesterol or changes it into bile which helps digestion. The American Heart Association recommends an average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week to fight cholesterol.
Heart Healthy Diet
Diet is one of the most important ways you protect your heart. It’s easy to remember the kinds of foods that are great for your heart: fruits, veggies and whole grains. Simple, right? Eliminating fatty processed foods will elevate your heart health to new levels. Another important element that can boost your heart health is Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Most of the research about Omega-3 and heart health used fish based oils. That’s due to the fish oil industry’s large influence in the natural health world. The lack of plant based studies on this subject mislead many. That's why ALA Omega-3 is often thought to be less important to health as fish based fatty acids.
In 2014, researchers at Penn State University looked deeper into existing studies. They found that that ALA is likely as effective in preventing cardiovascular disease as EPA/DHA have proven to be. Penny Kris-Etherton, Professor of Nutrition also publicly stated, "Our understanding of the cardiovascular disease benefits of ALA has advanced markedly during the past decade. Based on the current evidence, ALA decreases CVD risk."
Plant Based v Animal Based
Plant based omegas are ALA and fished based omegas are DHA or EPA. Our bodies convert ALA to DHA and EPA. How much conversion occurs depends on a variety of factors, like diet. It’s still important to make sure you are getting DHA and EPA in your diet or through supplements. There are many benefits to choosing plant based Omegas over fish oil.
Sea buckthorn seed oil has three heart healthy fatty acids, including Omega 3, 6 & 9. There is natural vitamin E and antioxidants which also support heart health. Sea buckthorn oil needs less processing than fish oil. With minimal processing, the oil maintains more of its nutritional makeup. That’s good because it’s easier for your body to use and there are more nutrients in the oil. This rich oil has shown to be beneficial to heart health.
“Combined efficacy of omega fatty acids and natural antioxidants which are present in sea buckthorn seed oil has the advantage of synergistic as well as complimentary action of bio-molecules and together contributes towards reduction of cardiac risk factors”
Start Focusing on Your Heart Health
It doesn’t matter how young or how healthy you are. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are too young to worry about your heart! Make sure that you put an emphasis on your heart health. With exercise, healthy diet and omega-3 support, you will be well on your way to lifelong heart health.