February is Heart Health Month
How heart-healthy foods can protect yours
“One love, one heart, let’s get together and be all right,” sang Bob Marley. Including the heart in his powerful message of peace speaks to its significance. Each of us has one, and it is expected to support us throughout our lives. Sadly, heart disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide. In the US, one person dies from it every 34 seconds. There are many reasons why death from heart failure continues to be so high; however, over the decades, much research has been devoted to this problem, and as the results of each study are revealed, we get a clearer picture of the causes. Each new insight allows us to make changes and develop habits that help support and protect our hearts.
External factors cause internal inflammation.
Heart disease results from a combination of lifestyle influences such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, a diet high in sugar and salt, unhealthy fat, processed foods, and low consumption of fruits and vegetables. Combined with a lack of exercise, these factors trigger the manufacturing of plaque, a combination of fats, calcium, and cholesterol. A buildup of plaque impedes blood flow to the heart and brain. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes are symptoms of chronic internal inflammation.
A mainly plant-based diet has significant heart health benefits.
Medical studies have revealed the benefits of a vegetarian diet, the importance of reducing salt intake and exercising regularly. Maintaining a healthy weight has been identified as one of the critical factors in reducing heart disease.
Marley was a practicing Rastafarian. A religion and spiritual movement founded in Jamaica in the 1930s, Rastafarians believe in a deep connection to nature and the earth. Its members live a vegetarian lifestyle, abstaining from salt and all animal products. They believe this helps them achieve physical and spiritual health. It should be noted that Bob Marley ate fish and meat occasionally, yet many Rastas adhere to the practice of “ital is vital,” eating, primarily vegan.