Magaret Guthrie Nally

By Magaret Guthrie Nally

Expert Advice, Health Advice, Heart Health, View All Health Advice

Heart Health

Did you know that heart disease is the biggest killer of men & women in Ireland? Many of us are unaware that heart disease shows little symptoms until it’s too late. When was the last time you gave your heart health a second thought? I thought so! It’s so common for people to think out of sight, out of mind in relation to their hearts. Many of us take a reactive approach and not a proactive approach to heart health. It only comes to the forefront of our thoughts when something goes wrong and in many cases it’s too late, the damage has already been done.

At Evergreen, we believe in a proactive approach to heart health. We are in the business of keeping people healthy through a combination of a healthy diet and active lifestyle. We wanted to educate our customers on how best to support a healthy, happy heart! We are strong believers in small changes, big results!

Heart Disease

As I previously mentioned heart disease is the biggest cause of death in Ireland for both men & women. For the majority of people however heart disease can be delayed or even prevented. Simply eating healthy, being physically active & being mindful may all help to reduce your chances of heart disease. One of the most beneficial ways to prevent heart disease is to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level.

Cholesterol: Raised cholesterol increases the risks of heart disease and stroke. Your body requires a certain amount of cholesterol to help your cells function properly & to produce important hormones. However, if there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it sticks to the inner lining of your arteries & blood vessels to form atheroma (degeneration of the walls of the arteries caused by accumulated fatty deposits).

Coenzyme Q10: Is and antioxidant that is necessary for the cells to function properly. CoQ10 can be found in its highest amount in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas. It helps convert food into energy. Studies show CoQ10 may reduce natural levels of CoQ10 in the body.

Phospholipids: Such as lecithin help prevent cholesterol from sticking to cell membranes. The lubrication provided by lecithin creates a slippery lining on which it is difficult for large, fatty deposits to adhere. When large deposits of fat cannot adhere to specific regions of the body, they are transported to the liver where they are metabolised and converted into energy. Improved circulation, a result of lecithin consumption, helps to maintain the health of the liver through which excess fats and energy-providing substances will pass.

Healthy Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans can help to improve blood cholesterol. Rich in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, these nuts help to keep blood vessels healthy. Eating just a handful (42g) of nuts a day may help to reduce your risk of heart disease. Make sure the nuts aren’t salted or coated with sugar.

Whole Grains: The latest guidelines recommend eating a minimum of three servings of whole grains every day. One serving is equal to one slice of whole grain bread, ½ a cup of whole grain cereal or ½ a cup of brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Also dietary fibre from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, may help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.

Preventing Heart Disease

Preventing heart disease by simply making smart choices now that will pay off the rest of your life. Like your car, your heart works best when it runs on clean fuel. You would never mean to put dirty fuel or diesel in a petrol engine, would you?

One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary drinks like fizzy beverages and fruit juice, which lacks the fibre that’s in actual fruit. These calories don't fill us up the way real food can, so we have them in addition to everything else we're eating, with no nutritional benefit.

Healthy Foods: We suggest to eat plenty of fibre to aid your heart health; aim for at least 30g a day. Eat fibre from a variety of sources, such as wholemeal bread, bran, oats and wholegrain cereals, potatoes with their skins on, and plenty of fruit and veg.

What does 30g of nuts equal?

20 almonds, 10 Brazil nuts, 15 cashews, 4 chestnuts, 20 hazelnuts, 15 macadamias, 15 pecans, 30 pistachio kernels out of shell, 9 walnuts.

For your heart that means lots of whole, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and fewer refined or processed foods like white bread, pasta, crackers, and biscuits.

Blood Pressure: To maintain healthy blood pressure, avoid using table salt at meal times and try adding less to your cooking. A healthy salt option is Himalayan salt. It promotes balanced electrolytes to help keep your body in homeostasis – the balance of chemicals that is conducive to the body's function. The Fresenius Institute in Europe analysed the Himalayan Crystal Salt and proved that it has an amazing array of important trace minerals and elements, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium that help promote a healthy balance by maintaining fluids and replenishing your supply of electrolytes whenever you perspire heavily.

Processed Foods: Watch out for high salt levels in ready-made foods. Most of the salt we eat is already in the foods we buy. Check the food labels, a food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (or 0.6g sodium) per 100g. Adults should eat less than 6g of salt a day in total; that's about one teaspoon.

Get Active: Getting and staying active may help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It can also be a great mood booster and stress buster. Changing habits could change your health, taking the stairs rather than the lift or escalator, walking to the local shop rather than taking the car, going for 10 – 15 minute walk twice daily in the fresh air, cycle to work where possible.

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Here I would like to iron out the question of anaemia. It has been shown people with heart failure frequently have low iron levels, which can exacerbate their symptoms making exercising difficult. Anaemia is a blood condition in which the levels of haemoglobin are lower than normal. When someone is anaemic, the body doesn't get the oxygen that it needs. According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency anaemia is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, with at least 30 percent of the world's population suffering from anaemia.

Haemoglobin: Most iron in our bodies is incorporated in haemoglobin. This essential protein carries oxygen to every living cell within the body. Anaemia is a blood condition in which the levels of haemoglobin are lower than normal.

Dangers of Anaemia: Iron deficiency anaemia may lead to a rapid or irregular heartbeat. Your heart must pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen carried in your blood when you're anaemic. Other symptoms of anaemia; you may feel fatigued, weak, dizzy or irritable, and you may have headaches, low body temperature and very pale skin.

I hope this blog has helped to shed some light on heart health and what changes can be made to improve it.