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How To Avoid Plaque Buildup In Arteries

Heart health is an extremely important topic that can make many people unsure or uncomfortable to discuss. But in order to continue a healthy lifestyle and live a long life, there are certain steps that need to be taken to make sure you are placing heart health above other indulgences such as eating fatty foods, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol. Avoiding these things can be a great way to start, but it takes more than just these few things to achieve overall good health. Has your doctor recently warned you about your heart’s health? Have you been searching for how to avoid plaque buildup in arteries? We have come up with an easy to follow guide and tips and tricks you can follow to boost your personal health and prevent plaque from building up within your arteries.

What exactly is plaque?

The buildup of plaque occurs when cholesterol gets lodged in artery walls. White blood cells go on the defensive and attempts to contain the cholesterol, but doing so can cause inflammation and the buildup of soft plaque, which can also become a hazard to your health.

Plaque Buildup In Arteries

High blood pressure can cause this soft plaque to be released, form a clot and a result, cause a heart attack. While doctors may be able to prescribe medication to help, you can also take initiative and change things during your day-to-day activities to improve your overall heart health and avoid plaque buildup.

Daily diet

Start with your diet and see what could use improvement. In order to diminish the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke, the bulk of your diet should consist of whole unprocessed foods that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Avoid overly spicy foods to help reduce painful symptoms such as acid reflux and heartburn. The one change most people have a hard time making when it comes to their diet is cutting down on salt intake. However, there are now low sodium salt options available in store, and you can also use traditional herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, and garlic to season your food and bring it to life without excess amounts of salt.

Here is a simple breakdown of basic foods you should aim to fit into your daily diet:

Vegetables – Select leafy, dark green vegetables to get the most fiber out of them. Consider items like broccoli, spinach, zucchini, and asparagus. Outside of the green variety of vegetables, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and sweet potatoes are other fantastic options to consider buying when at your local grocer.

Fruits – Fruits can contain a ton of sugar and should be enjoyed moderately. However, there are numerous options when looking for fruit that benefits the body. Some fruits to purchase include citrus (oranges, grapefruit, blood orange, etc.), bananas, apples, berries, peaches, and other fruits that are rich in color and antioxidants. A bonus fruit you may not have thought of includes avocados, which contain healthy fats and are usable in a number of recipes.

Balanced diet consisting of vegetables , fruits, proteins, grains and dairy

Protein – When it comes to avoiding plaque buildup, you may want to avoid proteins that are especially high in fat. This often includes a variety of red meat like steak, burgers, and bacon. These foods often contain a ton of salt, and are loaded with butter and oil, which can also damage your heart and cause an increased amount of plaque buildup. Try opting for lean meats like fish, chicken, and low fat turkey. For vegetarian options, try beans, lentils, tofu, and eggs.

Grains – Choose your grains wisely as many grains are the result of overly processed methods, which can make them higher in sugar than whole grains. Steel cut oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat bread can replace much of what you might already be buying in their processed form.

Dairy – When it comes to dairy, there are some wonderful alternatives out there such as almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk. Not interested in going non-dairy? Keep your traditional milk products but buy them with a lower fat content in sight (2%-skim). Pay attention to other products with dairy in them as well such as yogurt and cheese to make sure you are decreasing your intake of sugar, and upping the amount of true nutrients you take in.

Increase water intake

Make sure you are hydrating properly and cutting back on sugar loaded drinks that can contribute to declining health. The average person should consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This can also be translated to about 2 liters or half a gallon. Incorporating this change into your every day diet might mean selecting a hot tea in place of your caramel swirl macchiato from your favorite coffee shop in the morning. In fact, there are only about 2 calories in an 8-ounce serving of hot green tea, no fat, and no added sugar. For comparison, if you were to take a look at two popular coffee shops in the U.S. that serve caramel macchiatos, you would find that the calorie content and fat content is a lot higher. For example, when amount of milk, espresso, sugar, and syrup were all taken into account, it was found that there can be about 200 calories in one traditional 8-ounce serving of a caramel macchiato. Flavored coffee drinks should be enjoyed as an occasional treat and not ingested every day.

Carry around a sustainable water bottle to make sure you are getting the proper amount of water each day, and have snacks that can hydrate your body as well. Some hydrating snacks include watermelon, celery, cucumber, and berries.

Follow up with your doctor

While you may feel you are taking all of the right steps to reduce plaque buildup, you should also be sure that you are keeping up with a solid medical checkup schedule. This is crucial if you are older, and have a history of heart disease within your family.

Follow up with your doctor

Track it

An easy way to stay on track with appointments and follow ups is by placing them into a calendar or planner. Whether you have to physically write down the information with pen and paper, or type it into your phone or tablet, seeking medical guidance for your heart’s health can prove to be life saving.

Set a reminder

Set a reminder/alarm on your computer or phone to alert you when you have a doctor’s visit coming up soon. This way you’ll be able to refer back to your planner and make sure you leave room for your appointment with no excuses in the way of you and your health.

Tell a friend

Ask a friend or family member to help you stay on track during your health journey. This can include dieting, exercising, and reminding you of doctor’s visits. Choosing someone you know you can trust and talk to about your health concerns can help you mentally so you can continue making progress.

When dealing with your heart health, you don’t have to do it alone. Here at Vital Heart & Vein, we are always coming up with new ideas to keep the blood flowing and to get your body moving towards a healthier tomorrow. Your heart. Our passion.



Natural Circulation Boosters

Finding new ways to help continue the circulation in your blood can have a number of positive effects. Everything you do from eating, drinking, exercising, and more, changes the way your body moves blood throughout the rest of your body. Learning to adapt using some natural circulation boosters can help you make the change you need to improve circulation throughout the body.

Here are some natural circulation boosters to help improve your overall health that can be adapted into your day-to-day routine.

How does it work?

natural circulation boosters

Your circulatory system, or the way your body circulates blood, is part of the cardiovascular system, which involves some essential organs being the heart and lungs. Along its circulatory route, oxygen and nutrients are carried to the cells, while carbon dioxide and other waste is picked up. Oxygenated blood is carried from the left ventricle, through arteries and capillaries, and into the right atrium of the heart through veins as newly transformed deoxygenated blood. The oxygenated blood moves to the rest of your body and gives your other organs necessary oxygen and nutrients.

Those who suffer from poor circulation usually have symptoms including:

  • Tingling or numbness in the toes and feet
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Lack of energy
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Increased chance of having high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Varicose veins
  • Increased chance of having issues with kidneys and liver

Why do I need to?

One fundamental way to start improving your circulatory system can include being honest with yourself and making a list of things you typically do, eat, and drink in a day. If you see any red flags—such as overuse of caffeine or unhealthy eating habits—you can use that time to highlight them and document how you plan on changing them in the future. Your overall list may look intimidating at first but believe in yourself and start with smaller improvements before building up to the larger challenges.

Fuel in food

Use food to give your body energy and improve circulation. Overloading on sugar, salt, and carbs can make you feel even more tired and drained throughout the day. Food allergies can also decrease the amount of productivity you wish to accomplish on a daily basis. Stay away from deep fried or overly processed foods, and opt for whole wheat, leafy greens, and lean proteins to sustain you.

Foods that fall within this range usually include brown rice, chia seeds, quinoa, fish, spinach, kale, and chicken to start. Fruits like strawberries, apples, and oranges can be okay but they can also contain sugar so it is always best to enjoy fruits in moderation.

You can further assist your diet by taking supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and B12, and magnesium.

Stay away from deep fried or overly processed foods, and opt for whole wheat, leafy greens, and lean proteins to sustain you

Drink the right things more often

Hydrate with water! For the average person, this usually means you need about 2 liters of water a day. While drinking water seems like a simple solution, you should also reduce things that don’t do the best things for your body. This includes making one trip less to the coffee shop and using tea every once in a while if you happen to be someone who simply can’t live without a little boost at the start of your day.

Hydrate with water

Green tea for example, is a good way to hydrate your body and get some caffeine in without overdoing it.

Next, reducing alcohol intake can produce the better blood circulation benefits you are looking for. According to the American Heart Association, alcohol can increase risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and obesity. Each of these ailments weaken the heart and make it more difficult to stay on the right track down the road. By limiting the amount of alcohol you take in, you can improve your overall quality of life as well as the circulation within your body.

Movement matters

Sometimes, poor circulation can even alter how you work out and how well you work out. Some common symptoms that might affect your exercise routines include fatigue, vertigo, headaches, muscle cramps or pain, and trouble catching your breath. This can make it seem like you simply aren’t able to handle a good workout but it could be far from the truth. By making other adjustments to improve blood flow, finding the right workout for you can also make a huge difference in your overall health. Try some of these exercises to improve circulation.

  1. Yoga

Yoga is a great way to slowly stretch and move muscles in the body. Slow movements make this exercise ideal for those of any age, while also providing the ability to adjust to specific levels of fitness. By starting and ending with deep breaths, and holding certain positions using core muscles, you can create a strong foundation for your body and improve blood flow.

Yoga is a great way to slowly stretch and move muscles in the body

2. Walking

Walking is a fairly low impact way of getting up and moving, and can have some great benefits to your heart health as well. For someone who struggles to workout, even 5-10 minutes around the block a day can help significantly. Wear shoes that support your body to the best of its ability, and make it an enjoyable experience by popping in some headphones and listening to your favorite song.

3. Light cardio

Light cardio includes exercises like jumping rope or jogging for a small period of time. Again, wearing shoes that support you is important here, as you do not want to put any extra strain and stress on your back.

Treatments to help

Although getting a massage may seem indulgent, it can truly have some great health benefits. By combining a small amount of essential oil, and a masseuse who is experienced in their craft, you get an experience that is both pampering and beneficial. Find a masseuse and massage salon that can customize their services to your specific needs. They can then work to knead out tired muscles and boost circulation throughout the body from your skull all the way down to your toes. By using slow, careful motions, your massage therapist can focus on areas that bother you the most.



Lower Your Sodium With 7 Healthy Substitutes for Salt

In the U.S., the average person consumes more than twice the daily amount of salt recommended by the American Heart Association. This is a problem, but it’s no wonder, when we are bombarded with convenient processed options at every turn. Choosing foods that are ideal for a heart-healthy diet does not have to mean going salt free.

To reduce your sodium intake, you can create an eating plan that utilizes healthy substitutes for salt as well as better choices when it comes to the amount of salt per day that you consume. It’s all about building a healthy balance of options that are both delicious and good for your heart!

7 Healthy substitutes for salt

Go beyond sodium reduction and incorporate things that bring more flavor to your food.

  • Citrus fruits
    Lemon, limes, and more can add a bright taste to any dish.
  • Chilis/Cayenne pepper
    Dishes without salt won’t be bland when you add spiciness to them!
Dishes without salt won’t be bland when you add spiciness to them!
  • Rosemary and Thyme
    Add unique flavor to marinades, chicken dishes, and more.
  • Paprika
    Paprika is versatile, and it can be used on with meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables.
  • Garlic and Onion
    Add a punch of flavor to any savory dish with delicious onion and garlic.
  • Basil
    Use sweet, peppery basil in pesto, soups, sandwiches, and more.
  • Cumin
    Cumin can add aromatic zest to Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes.

Why too much sodium is bad for your heart

Sodium is a mineral that is essential for nerve and muscle function. So while it’s important to take care not to consume too much, it’s still an important part of an overall balanced diet. Yet too much sodium running through your bloodstream pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the volume and, as a result, the pressure. High blood pressure over prolonged periods of time can stretch out or injure a blood vessel, making it easier for plaque to accumulate. This accumulation blocks blood flow and makes it your heart work harder to pump blood through the body. All of this extra work can ultimately damage your heart. In addition, the blockage could become so severe that blood won’t be able to reach your heart.

Make better choices

A heart-healthy diet starts with the ability to make healthier, more sensible food choices. It doesn’t mean you have to cut out everything you love. It simply means you should pay attention to how much sodium you’re eating and search for a salt substitute at times. It’s important to begin with an assessment of your current diet to figure out how much sodium you’re consuming now.

First, start small: pay attention to how much table salt you are adding to your food. Choose a salt shaker that distributes salt at a slower pace to make it harder to add too much salt to your plate. Cutting back by just half is a great beginning to making a huge difference.

Avoid processed foods

If you eat a lot of processed foods, you may be consuming too much sodium, since sodium chloride (salt) is used as a preservative to enable them to have a longer shelf life.

Salad dressing is one of the saltiest processed foods you might be consuming, which is a shame because so many people eat salads to be healthy. It’s unfortunate that all those healthy benefits could be cancelled out with an unhealthy salad dressing. Consider making your own from scratch. It’s easy, and this way you can control the flavor and the amount of sodium.

Condiments and marinades are another source of high sodium. Soy sauce is a huge offender, but you can still enjoy it by choosing the lower sodium version. Meat marinades can add lots of flavor to dishes, but beware of the high sodium content in pre-bottled versions. You could use a homemade spice rub instead, or you could make your own flavored vinegar.

Avoid processed foods

You can infuse them with fresh herbs and spices or even fruit for a fun kick of flavor. Or try this flavorful gem made with lemon juice and olive oil. The burst of flavor from these flavor-enhancing ingredients means you can use less salt.

Recipes to try

Eating well can be delicious, and these recipes that are packed full of flavor prove it. For a heart-healthy breakfast, try this breakfast tostada. It is composed of ingredients that offer your mind and body the fuel it needs to start the day off right. And it’s gluten-free!

For lunch, try turkey avocado lettuce tacos for a midday pick-me-up. Plenty of fresh veggies heightens the flavor profile of this dish that only has 260 mg of sodium.

Round out the day with a hearty dinner thanks to lime-glazed pork chops. Citrus adds wonderful flavor and complexity to meat. Best yet, this dish only has 87 mg of sodium per serving!

Reducing the amount of sodium you consume doesn’t have to mean adhering to a diet of bland, boring food. There are plenty more flavorful elements that can add zest to your food!




3 Exercises for Vein Disease and Varicose Veins

Getting older comes with its own perks and challenges. The tradeoff for gaining more wisdom is dealing with a body that is less amenable to an active lifestyle. Issues such as vein disease and varicose veins become more commonplace, affecting as many as 35% of the U.S. population. Though the bulging veins may cause you discomfort and require you to put your feet up to recover, there are many exercises you can do to help relieve your symptoms and help with healthy circulation.
Varicose veins result from a circulatory condition we call venous insufficiency. This leads to blood pooling in our legs, which can cause leg swelling, aching, skin discoloration, and varicose veins. Many times, venous insufficiency happens due to age, but it also can also occur thanks to genetics, obesity, multiple pregnancies, sedentary lifestyles, and more. Though we can’t fix the faulty valves without surgery, we can help keep the blood flowing better with certain exercises.

Walk your way to health

Keep your legs healthy with walking, a classic exercise that’s beneficial at any age. The movement with walking helps the muscles in your leg contract, aiding in blood flow. It’s simple, free, and offers a whole host of other health benefits as well. 

Though walking is a low-impact exercise, it’s important to check with your doctor before beginning. Ease into it, and make sure you have good, supportive shoes.

Lift your legs

Vein disease issues generally occur in the legs, so it makes sense that some exercises will target this area directly. Indeed, building stronger muscles will improve your fitness and help with venous insufficiency. Strengthen your calves with calf raises, a simple exercise that you can do anywhere. Simply stand with your legs straight, rise on your tiptoes, and then lower back down.

Swimming is a wonderful low-impact exercise that is gentle on your joints and muscles

Take a swim

Swimming is a wonderful low-impact exercise that is gentle on your joints and muscles while offering a workout for your whole body. The fluid movements can help ease symptoms of vein disease as well as improve circulation and build strength that can help with venous insufficiency.

Remember, regular exercise is always important, even with symptoms of vein disease. Choose routines that work for you and help you feel your best!


Heart-Healthy Holiday Ideas

The holidays are the time of year to reflect on all the joys in our lives. Friends, family, prosperity, and good health are all things to celebrate. Don’t just take your blessings for granted. The holidays may be all about the fun, but you don’t have to let your health slide. You can help keep your health in tip-top shape by following just a few simple guidelines over the holidays.

Keep it moving

couple jogging in the snow to keep heart healthy even during winter

The holiday season coincides with cold temperatures rolling in, leading most of us to want to curl up under some blankets by the fireplace. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in some relaxation—that’s one of the perks of the season, after all—but just remember to log some activity in your day. The blustery temps may keep you from taking your fitness routine outdoors, but there are still lots of winter-appropriate exercises that won’t leave you shivering in the cold. Knock out two things at once by doing your shopping at the mall. You can go early before they open to avoid congestion, and be ready to cross items off your holiday shopping list once you’re done.

Treat yourself, within reason

Yes, it can be hard to resist all the holiday goodies beckoning you at every turn. But there are still delicious things to be eaten that won’t put too much stress on your heart. Forgo the sugar-laden iced reindeer cookies and choose these Cranberry-Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies instead. They are packed with heart-healthy ingredients such as whole wheat, oats, and omega-3-laden walnuts.

Healthier treats can be just as decadent as their higher-fat cousins, as is evident with these Brownies With Butterscotch Drizzle. Bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate as well as whole wheat flour and low-fat sour cream and milk cut the sugar content. They are so rich you won’t even notice!

Stress less

preparing for a dinner

As festive as the holidays are, they can bring about some additional stress. In fact, heart attacks peak on Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s important not to get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Remember that this time of year is about celebrating blessings, not running around stressing over gifts. Giving is all part of the fun, but don’t let it get you overwhelmed.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season spending time with your loved ones. To ensure your heart is in its best health this winter, visit Vital Heart & Vein.