Posted under: Body
As a lot, we men are generally pretty competitive. We don’t like to lose. Yet, when it comes to dying from heart-related causes, we men are losers – women generally live longer than men. This has gone on for decades, it seems. I’m beginning to wonder if we simply don’t understand the rules of the game. To be first in dying is not winning, okay?!
How else do we explain how we, as men, are first to fall face forward into our cereal, soup, or snow bank, well before the average woman does? Either we are doing something which is killing us sooner, or women have devised a not-so-obvious method to kill us off, or bad karma, luck, or some other not-in-our-hands reason for ruining a good bowl of cereal overtakes us. I suspect the second point, but will work with the first one – that we are not doing ourselves any favors by what we do. Let’s check a couple of facts before moving on to heart-healthy eating tips, the point of this article.
Some Heart Breaking Facts
A recent statistic indicates that women’s hearts are on average ‘stronger for longer’- whereas men will lose up to 25% pumping power by age 70! Of all male deaths last year 26% were from heart disease – which was higher than women’s.
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S., with about 600,000 Americans dying of heart disease last year. Yep, Americans are again number one, but in the wrong thing. Some of the biggest lifestyle reasons for heart disease are mainly food related such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and poor diet.
Part of the problem is that we eat with our eyes and not our head. Or is it our belly? My doctor would say that ‘to think before you eat is the heart breaking truth,’ or something to that effect. But frankly, he wasn’t there when I met that irresistible Swiss-and-bacon half-pound burger with mushrooms the other day. I heard her speaking to me.
Well, it gets worse as research indicates that men are more likely to smoke, drink and eat less healthily than women, which is another piece of evidence to the contrary of my earlier thesis that women were actually killing us. I’ve known a couple who wanted to kill me.... maybe that is where I got that idea to start with.
Eating Better Intentionally
I don’t know what you guys think, but diets are not my definition of living the good life, but neither is heart failure. So to avoid a triple bypass, there are some simple dietary change outs that we can easily integrate into our regular feeding schedule without the textbook ‘diet dos and don’ts’.
1. Nuts and Berries. Let’s go nuts for a bit of a change up. Probably not beer nuts, though. Look to almonds and walnuts, even lightly salted would be fine. Those two nuts pack a punch of cholesterol-lowering sterols and a healthy kind of fat. Unlike saturated, this monounsaturated fat (HDL) doesn’t block the removal of the bad (LDL) cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Any fruit with the word ‘berry’ in it is bursting with antioxidants which can help break down fats and cholesterol. So berry up your cornflakes, oatmeal, protein shake, and salad with these potent pulse pleasers!
Better yet, throw together some dried fruit and nuts into a bowl and use as your mid-afternoon munchies. I even sneak in some M&Ms to the mix, which changes the whole game.
2. Fruits and Veggies. Vegetables may not have been my favorite food as a kid but now I can say they help break up my meat-and-potatoes monotony. But I like my meat and potatoes. Asparagus and broccoli are filled with heart-healthy phytonutrients that help repair damage to cells - preventing heart disease. So boil, steam or grill - these greens are battling for your blood vessels.
Now let’s not forget about the heart-happy fruits such as oranges, cantaloupe and tomatoes (fruit or veggie - who knows?). Brightly-colored fruits contain a whole bunch of heart protective antioxidants such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. Then there’s vitamin C which protect cells from them thar destructive ‘free radicals’ running loose in the blood stream and those B-complex vitamins which help prevent blood clots and hardening of the arteries.
3. Main Courses. But I like meat and potatoes! I said that already. Think first of smaller portions. Remember that saying out there somewhere, ‘Eat to live, not live to eat?’ As to what to eat, think fish, at least add more of this category to your diet. Nothing wrong with that red meat, but diversifying your diet is a good approach.
In particular, salmon and tuna are believed to be best as they are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce blood clots, protect arteries from build-up, and lower blood pressure. Those super fish can really give your heart and arteries a spruce up. These ‘fighters’ are highly beneficial when eaten at least twice a week, lowering bad cholesterol by as much as 20%.
How about sardines? Yep, sardines. Those little babies are loaded with good stuff. Serve a tin of those when your date comes over. She’ll, um, probably not be impressed. Look, it’s easier to get another woman than it is a heart. (And, frankly, if she is impressed, there’s probably a sign in there somewhere;)
I am not big on eating tuna or sardines in the morning, so for breakfast a bowl of oatmeal can get you ‘pumped’ for the day! The fiber and potassium in these hearty oats lowers cholesterol while clearing out your arteries. Throw in some berries and banana slices and really ‘juice’ it up.
4. Dessert and Drinks. Keeping your heart healthy shouldn’t be a reason to skimp on the good things in life or interfere with a little romance either! Dark chocolate (with70% or more cocoa content) is a highly enjoyable way to savor some heart-healthy moments. Serve it with a glass of red wine and not only will the ladies think highly of you but so will your beating heart. Both contain high contents of catechins and reservatrol which equals good cholesterol levels, and hopefully a second date.
Red wine proves to be beneficial for our hearts when consumed in moderation. In fact the risk of heart disease is lower than non-drinkers for men who drink about two drinks of alcohol a day. But let’s remember that drinking too much can raise your blood pressure, produce irregular heartbeats, and contribute to heart failure. So you shouldn’t use alcohol as a heart disease medication, but don’t be afraid to wine and dine a bit!
By consistently adding a couple of ‘pipe cleaners’ to your regular menu, your heart could be serving you well for many more years to come. Of course, diet alone is not the complete story, but it is an important one.