Well, it's Valentine's Day AND February is Heart Month. What a great time to consider your vascular health. I know, you have heard it before, heart health is important, yada, yada. However, have you thought about other benefits to a heart healthy lifestyle? Think about it.
If you're taking steps to improve your vascular health, we're talking about better circulation… all over your body. Are you with me? Better circulation to all your organs. That's right, it turns out that the same factors that reduce your risk for heart disease reduce your risk for erectile dysfunction (ED). Better circulation = more energy and stamina and better circulation = better blood flow….that's a win, win in my books.
In fact, research suggests that ED can be an early indicator of heart disease when it is due to blood flow issues, and vice versa, patients treated for heart disease have found they often have improved erectile function, when they employ a healthy lifestyle. Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic identify a number of areas to consider, including weight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and depression. The Mayo Clinic points out that "making simple lifestyle changes such as exercising, changing your diet or losing weight may be enough to help keep your heart healthy — and improve your ability to have an erection." That's enough to motivate me to take a few steps towards a healthier "heart".
So, what can we do to try to ‘maximize' our results and improve our circulation?
1) Get, or stay active – heart health not only benefits from physical activity, it can help you enjoy more "physical activity".
2) Enjoy healthy eating, for heart health (read: better circulation) – it's not all steamed vegetables and fish.
Healthy eating and regular physical activity can improve your quality of life in many ways. Keep it up with a heart healthy lifestyle, and you just may have a better Valentine's Day, as a result.
Here are a few tips to consider for ‘heart healthy' eating to get you started, and/or keep you going.
|Broad strokes||It's all in the details|
|Vegetable oils are for more than frying.
Choose mono- and poly- unsaturated fats more often.
Monounsaturated fats are found in:
Polyunsaturated fats are found in:
Eat more foods that have omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are a kind of polyunsaturated fat found in fish (DHA and EPA) and in plant foods (ALA). Both kinds of omega-3s are heart healthy, but the omega-3 in fish has the most benefit.
|Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide recommends:
Fish that are good sources of omega-3's include:
Eat plant sources of omega-3 fats (ALA) such as flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, tofu and canola oil:
Not the ones in your house (unless they are in fact grown as food plants), but your vegetables and fruits.
Plant foods have fibre that can help lower cholesterol and naturally occurring compounds called phytochemicals that may protect your heart.
|Eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits every day.
Beans! Try them. They can be a gas.
Whole grains. Try including a variety of them every day.