How a healthy diet can help you prevent cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in most countries.  These diseases involve the blood vessels, the heart or both.  The circulatory or cardiovascular system supplies the body with blood and consists of the heart, veins, arteries and capillaries.

Cardiovascular diseases are a group heart and blood vessel disorders and include:

  • Peripheral Arterial Disease:  Disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs.
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease:  Damage to the heart valves and heart muscle from rheumatic fever.
  • Coronary Heart Disease:  Disease of blood vessels supplying the heart muscle.
  • Congenital Heart Disease:  Malfunctions of the structure of the heart.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis:  Blood clots in the leg veins which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.

There are various risk factors that have the potential to increase a person’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease and these include:

  • Having a poor diet.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Hypertension.
  • Obesity.
  • Smoking.

A stroke or heart attack may be the first warning sign of an underlying disease of the blood vessels. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the left shoulder, elbows, jaw or back.
  • Pain or discomfort in the centre of the chest.
  • Feeling faint or light-headed.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Breaking into a cold sweat.
  • Shortness of breath.

Symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech and confusion.
  • Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.
  • Unconsciousness or fainting.
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Numbness of the arm or leg, face, especially on one side of the body.

“Following a healthy diet is important for reducing the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels.  Exercising, even moderately may have a variety of beneficial effects including weight loss as obesity is also associated with increasing the risks of cardiovascular diseases,” says Gert Coetzee Pharmacist and Diet pioneer, who founded The Diet Everyone Talks About.  Below he lists some health hints and tips that can help you reduce your risks of getting cardiovascular diseases.

  • Have a heart-healthy diet:  A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish can help protect your heart.  Avoid eating too much salt, sugar and saturated and trans fats.  Sources of these include deep-fried fast foods, baked goods, cakes and biscuits and full-fat dairy products.
  • Make some time for exercising:  Doing some regular, daily exercises can help reduce your risks of heart disease.  The heart, just like any other muscle in the body, needs exercise.  When it’s exercised, the heart can pump more blood and continue working efficiently.
  • Quit smoking:  Avoiding smoking is the best thing that you can do to protect your heart and blood vessels.
  • Cut down on sugary drinks:  Sugary drinks are amongst the worst things that you can put into your body.  They are strongly associated with heart and other health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.  Rather drink some water as that comes with many benefits.
  • Avoid processed foods:  Processed food is incredibly bad for your body.  It is low in fibre, protein and nutrients that the body needs and high in refined grains and added sugar.

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