Be Strong

Healthy Heart

Beach Running Healthy Heart
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Pledge allegiance and you’ll know roughly where your heart is. Run fast and you can feel it working. But when it comes to keeping your heart healthy, the details aren’t quite as obvious. It helps to know that your heart is part of a larger system — the cardiovascular network of arteries, veins and capillaries that run throughout your body and carry blood (and with it, oxygen and nutrients) to your organs, muscles and bones. Running through this system is a single cell layer called the endothelium; keeping this layer as free as possible from inflammation and plaque buildup is critical to your heart health; it helps to prevent coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.

To keep your endothelium and entire cardiovascular system in optimal condition, first and foremost, don’t smoke or use tobacco products. Need to quit? Speak to your doctor about the cessation program that’s right for you.

Just as important, though, is the rest of your lifestyle — following a diet low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and heart-healthy fats; managing stress; and engaging in regular exercise. These three elements are so critical to remaining free of heart disease that Steven Nissen, MD, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, wrote in the Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook: “If every American followed [this lifestyle], some marvelous things would happen. Heart disease would be reduced dramatically. Diabetes would diminish to manageable proportions. Whole wings of our hospitals would be shut down. I, and most of my colleagues, could be thrown out onto the streets, unemployed. It would be the happiest day of my life.”

Wow Fact
Put down the burger. Step away from the ice cream. Eating saturated fat (primarily found in red meat and whole-milk dairy products) immediately lowers the anti-inflammatory properties of HDL, or “good” cholesterol.

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