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How to Have a Healthy Heart

Esther in Country Woman magazine photos

Esther in Country Woman magazine photos

by Esther Hylden, RN
Golden Valley Flax

What is one of our nation’s greatest health problems? Heart Disease.

How many hearts do we have? Do we have two, or three, so that if one is having a problem; the back-up heart will kick in? NO! We only have one heart!

When our son Justin, bought his first car, a 1995 Oldsmobile-98, he washed it once a week, whether it needed it or not! He bought special car wax and polish, and lovingly rubbed it on all the car’s surfaces. He kept the interior spick and span also. On the rare occasions that I would have to use his car, he would admonish me, “Don’t eat or drink in my car, Mom.” He took great care of his car, and it has served him well for many years.

Is that how we take care of our heart, the one organ that we count on to keep us alive? Do we nurture it, give it just the right fuel, and keep it clean, making sure that it does not clog up? For many of us, we must answer no, we just go on about our lives, not even thinking about our heart…until that day when it starts to “not work right.” Maybe we have a twinge of chest pain, maybe we become short of breath after going up a flight of stairs, maybe when we have our blood pressure checked, the Doctor or Nurse gets that concerned look on their face…and re-checks it again, and then again.

Then, we notice our heart, we miss its seamless beating, it’s quiet and steadfast effort to keep us alive. “What can we do?” we ask, “how can we take care of our heart?”

Here are a few tips:

  1. Exercise ( yes, I said the e-word). The American Heart Association recommends that we aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. As I am writing this, I realize that I have been sitting for most of the day…I will get up and go for a walk as soon as I am done writing. I promise!
  2. Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. To get the nutrients that you need, eat a diet that emphasizes:
    • Fruits, vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Low-fat dairy products
    • Poultry, fish, flax and nuts
    • Limit red meat and sugary foods and beverages.An example of a heart-healthy breakfast would be a serving of oatmeal, topped with 2 tablespoons of flaxseed and a cup of fresh berries. Oatmeal and flax are high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps to eliminate excess cholesterol from your digestive track and prohibiting it from entering your bloodstream. By doing this, it helps to prevent clogged arteries. Flaxseed is also high in heart healthy Omega 3s. A recent study of 4,000 heart attack survivors who added fiber to their diet lowered their risk of a recurrent heart attack by 35%! Now that is something to shout about!
  3. Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke.

There you have it, 3 things to do to take care of your heart! And now, I am going for that walk!

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