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Next to the brain, the heart is the most important organ of the body as it is responsible for pumping blood – which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues – throughout the body. The vessels that are responsible for transporting the blood are called veins and arteries. If these transporters become damaged, very serious diseases could result. This could ultimately end in death.
The structure of the heart
This organ is surrounded by a very thick layer to protect its delicate inner workings. These layers are called:
- Inner endocardium
- Middle myocardium
- Outer epicardium
It is divided into two. Each section is divided into two chambers which have an atrium as well as a ventricle:
- Atria: The right atrium collects deoxygenated blood that is returned from the lungs while the left atrium gathers reoxygenated blood coming from the lungs to the heart.
- Ventricles: The right ventricle receives deoxygenated blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs to be reoxygenated. The left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the left atrium and pumps it into the arteries which will distribute it to the entire body.
What is ‘heart disease’?
When people talk about this type of disease, the heart itself doesn’t contract a virus or a bacteria. What happens is that the blood vessels transporting blood to and from the heart become blocked.
One of the most common is coronary heart disease. Says Dr Benjamin Wedro:
“Coronary artery disease occurs when there is a build-up of cholesterol plaque inside the artery walls. Over time, this build-up of plaque may partially block the artery and decrease blood flow through it. A heart attack occurs when a plaque ruptures and forms a clot in the artery causing a complete blockage. That part of the heart muscle that is denied blood supply starts to die.”
How to eat to keep your heart healthy
To keep your heart healthy, you need to take in a variety of vitamins and nutrients that will keep heart disease – and other nasty ailments – at bay.
Says Julie Zumpano, RD, LD, a dietitian in the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic in an article entitled 15 Heart-Healthy Foods to Work into Your Diet:
“You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. There is a great variety of fruits and vegetables that are good for your heart. Try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground.”
Julie recommends the following heart-healthy foods:
- Fish high in omega-3s, for example salmon,
- A handful of healthy nuts such as walnuts,
- Berries, for example blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or raspberries in cereal or yoghurt,
- Dark beans, for example kidney or black beans which are high in fiber, B-vitamins and minerals,
- Marinated tofu,
- Red, yellow and orange veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers and acorn squash,
- Oranges, cantaloupes and papaya,
- Dark chocolate, and
- Broccoli florets.
The video below will show you everything that you need to know about maintaining a healthy heart nutrition wise.
Do the following for good heart health
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