The number one killer in the USA is the heart disease. However, it is largely preventable disease and small changes in our lifestyles can make big differences in our heart health. We will not focus here on quitting smoking or adding at least 30 min of physical activity a day because you should already know that. It is also a myth that men die more often of heart disease. It kills women and men alike. Women have a tendency to develop symptoms of heart disease after menopause. Nevertheless, they are more likely to die from a heart attack than men are.
The most common heart problem is coronary artery disease (or coronary heart disease). The coronary arteries encircle the heart, delivering the oxygen and nutrients and carrying away wastes. Like other arteries in the body, the coronary arteries can become unhealthy. The usual culprit is atherosclerosis: a condition in which arterial walls starts depositing fatty material.
This process weakens the circulation to the heart and other tissues in the body and increases blood pressure. The heart now has to pump blood through narrowed, inflexible arteries. It is hard work. Like any other overused muscle, the heart hypertrophies, or thickens. Eventually, it starts to give out, leading to congestive heart failure.
The sooner you take steps to protect your heart the better. Mother Nature will provide a few remedies to keep your heart in peak condition.
Start counting the number of heartbeats for 15 seconds. Multiplying the number by four will give you the beats per minute. Now, close your eyes. Straighten your spine so that the back of your head, shoulders, and sacrum line up. Rest your palms on your thighs. Inhale slowly for a count of four, pause, and then exhale slowly for a count of six. Be aware of your collarbones and ribs rise and your abdomen moves outward with a deep inhalation, then fall with exhalation. Repeat ten times. Check your pulse again.
Why does it work?
The complete relaxation slows your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. This helps in lowering the stress on the heart. Continuing stress raises blood pressure, which strains the heart and sets the stage for atherosclerosis. At the end, the normal heart-rate variability is lost. This kind of self –aware relaxation tends to restore the normal heart-rate variability. Unless you were already very relaxed, this exercise will probably slow your heart rate.
Resveratrol-Rich Mulled Wine
Indulge yourself throughout the holidays. The scent of the mulled wine is as soothing and welcoming as the taste.
- 1½ liters red wine (you can also use any leftovers of red wine)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
- ½ teaspoons ground anise
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
- Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
- Grated zest of 1 organic orange (Slice and reserve the orange.)
- Place a large pot over low heat.
- Pour in the wine.
- Combine the spices and citrus zest in a tea bag or wrap them in a cheesecloth and place in the pan.
- Keep the pot over low heat for 30 minutes.
- Stir in honey to taste.
- Pour the wine through a strainer into a decanter.
- Serve into mugs and top with a sprinkling of cinnamon and a slice of orange.
Why does it work?
Red grapes and red wine contain resveratrol and other flavonoids that lessen the tendency of blood to form clots in the arteries that supply the heart muscle. Recent studies have linked moderate wine consumption with cardiovascular benefits. Mulled wine is a good option since a considerable amount of alcohol will evaporate during the heating process. However, be moderate: high amounts of alcohol damage the heart.
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