I read a funny saying the other day, “I’ve learned more in the last couple of years from searching the Internet than I ever did all through high school!” I don’t know if that’s completely true, but I can certainly attest to the amount of knowledge I’ve gained on health issues.

In the last couple of weeks I have met two different gentlemen with heart problems.  One of them has already had triple-bypass surgery. They both come from families with a history of heart conditions. So I thought I would put in writing some steps for maintaining a healthy heart.

To begin with, seeing as we are just into a new year, (and it’s still not too late to make resolutions), let’s make this the year that we all become a little more health conscious. The Latin poet Marcus Valerius Martial once said, “Life is not merely to be alive, but to be well.” Learn to read labels of all food products and try to eliminate (or cut back on) the really bad items from your diet: sugar, white flour, MSG, pasteurized/homogenized dairy products, etc. And stay away from all fast-food restaurants.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could put them all out of business!

To begin with, seeing as we are just into a new year, (and it’s still not too late to make resolutions)

One of the more beneficial supplements for your heart, and overall well-being, is “Coenzyme Q10”, also known as CoQ10 (pronounced CO-Q-TEN). CoQ10 is produced naturally, and can be found in nearly every cell in your body. Its purpose is to allow each cell to get energy from the good foods that we eat, and uses this energy for all of life’s processes.  It is an excellent immune booster. CoQ10 levels are reported to decrease with age, and are said to be low in those with heart conditions, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Some of the foods that contain the highest sources of CoQ10 are soya beans, meats (beef liver), fish (mackerel and cod), garlic and wheat germ and to a lesser extent in the vegetables spinach, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and a few others. (There are other foods that are a rich source of CoQ10, but they are outside of God’s perfect food laws, so we won’t even mention them here.)

The largest concentrations of CoQ10 are found in the muscles of the body that produce the most energy. We therefore have the highest amounts of CoQ10 in our heart, liver, kidney and pancreas. The ability of these organs to function properly depends on our cells having enough CoQ10 to provide and sustain energy.

While CoQ10 is starting to become popular in North America, it is widely used as a supplement in Japan and most European countries. It is used for the prevention and treatment of many types of heart and artery disorders, such as high blood pressure, deficient heart energy and low-oxygen conditions threatening the integrity of heart tissue. CoQ10 is beneficial when blood delivery is reduced due to clogged arteries or during a heart attack. In addition, it can contribute to reducing the pain of angina and in regularizing an irregular heartbeat.

Another necessary supplement for maintaining a healthy heart is omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are necessary for human health but the body can’t make them, you can only get them through food.

Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for both cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioural function, along with normal growth and development. Some symptoms of Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, heart problems, poor circulation and depression.

Information reported in the journal PLOS Medicine lists lack of proper Omega-3 fat in the diet as one of the ten leading preventable causes of death. The journal estimates that nearly 100,000 die each year due to Omega-3 fat deficiency while many more suffer debilitating heart attacks, strokes and cognitive damage as a result. Another study published in the Nutrition Journal provides evidence that men with the highest levels of the Omega-3 fat, DHA ran a 34% lower risk of developing heart disease. Older adults with the highest total Omega-3 concentrations ran a 70% lower risk of a fatal heart attack.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and halibut. The superfood spirulina, fresh-water algae, is an excellent source of Omega-3. Cold-water fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are consumers of these algae.

It is important to have a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) in the diet.  Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most Omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical North American diet contains 14 to 25 times more Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3 fatty acids. Our modern diet includes excessive quantities of Omega-6 fat primarily from vegetable oils that have been used for frying. Processed foods such as chips and baked products frequently make use of hydrogenated oils to preserve taste and texture and skew the ratio of Omega fats. The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats is 1:1.

While CoQ10 is starting to become popular in North America, it is widely used as a supplement in Japan and most European countries.

Eating almonds and walnuts on a regular basis can help to change the blood chemistry to reduce the risk from coronary artery disease and death from a heart attack. These nuts are loaded with beneficial monounsaturated and Omega-3 fats which directly control the oxidation properties which make the particles less cohesive and less likely to form plaque.

Eat lots of apples. Apples reduce stress in the body; boost heart function and health, and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The powerful antioxidants in apples help to reduce damage caused by free radicals. As a result, the key markers of heart disease are lessened.  Apples are also beneficial to the digestive system because they supply the intestines with healthy bacteria.

Resveratrol and grape seed extract have been shown to provide critical antioxidant support to the heart muscle. In a study reported in the journal, Nature, researchers demonstrated that grape compounds were able to break down anti-glycation end products that form as a result of high blood sugar levels.  AGE`s are known to damage the delicate inner lining of the coronary arteries, setting the stage for heart disease and a heart attack.

If you have had any heart problems, or they exist in your family history, it is worth your while to look into these foods and supplements, to greater your chances of a long and disease-free life!