Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death globally, and its risk factors can often go unnoticed until it’s too late. However, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. In this blog post, we will discuss ten actionable steps that you can take to decrease your risk of developing this life-threatening condition. From lifestyle changes to medical interventions, we will cover everything you need to know to protect your heart health and lead a healthier life.

1. Eat a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet:

Eating an array of plant and animal based whole foods that are nutrient-dense is one of the most effective ways to decrease cardiovascular disease risk from a functional medicine point of view. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high-quality sources of protein such as wild caught fish and grass-fed meats, healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds, as well as legumes, whole grains and other nutrient-dense foods helps provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for optimal cardiovascular health.

2. Reduce intake of processed foods

Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients which can contribute to increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Eliminating or reducing processed foods from the diet can help decrease this risk by limiting overall consumption of unhealthy substances.

3. Increase dietary fiber intake

Increasing dietary fiber intake can help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and promote better digestion which all contribute to decreased risk for cardiovascular disease.[1] Adding more fresh fruits, vegetables and other plant based sources of dietary fiber can help achieve these goals while also providing essential vitamins and minerals that promote better overall health.

4. Consume omega-3 fatty acids on a regular basis

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “good” fats because they provide numerous health benefits such as reducing inflammation while also helping to protect against coronary heart disease.[2] Eating wild caught fish such as salmon or sardines at least twice per week can help ensure adequate levels of omega 3s in the body to help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. Supplements containing EPA & DHA omega 3s may also be beneficial for those who do not eat enough seafood regularly or wish to increase their intake further.

5. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight as well as supporting good cardiovascular health.[3] Aiming for at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week is recommended for general health but higher intensity activities done several times per week may be even more beneficial when it comes to decreasing risk for cardiovascular disease specifically.

6. Manage stress levels

Stress hormones such as cortisol can have damaging effects on overall health if left unchecked including increasing risk for developing heart disease.[4] Incorporating stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises or yoga into daily life can help keep cortisol levels in check which in turn helps protect against developing diseases related to chronic stress exposure including coronary artery disease.

7. Quit smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of death from heart attack or stroke due to its effects on blood vessels.[5] Quitting smoking altogether is highly recommended from a functional medicine perspective when looking to reduce one’s risks of developing any type of cardiovascular issue later down the road.

8. Limit alcohol consumption

Although there are some potential heart benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption,[6] it is still recommended that individuals limit their alcohol consumption when attempting to reduce their risks for developing any kind of cardiac event later down the line since excessive drinking has been linked with increased mortality rates due to various types of heart diseases.

9. Get enough quality sleep

Getting adequate amounts (7+ hours)of quality sleep each night has been associated with improved circulation,[9] reduced inflammation[10], lower blood pressure[11], decreased triglycerides,[12] increased HDL (or “good” cholesterol)[13], among other positive physiological changes which all serve to protect against developing heart related issues later down the line.[14][15]. Making sure one gets proper rest each night should definitely be part of anyone’s plan when looking towards reducing their risks for any form cardiac issue going forward.

10 . Optimize vitamin D status

Vitamin D plays an important role in modulating immune system functioning[16], promoting healthy arteries[17], regulating calcium balance[18], producing antiarrhythmic hormone[19], aiding muscle contraction [20], along with many other processes that affect overall cardiac health.[21][22] Ensuring adequate vitamin D status through natural sunlight exposure or supplementation may offer further protection against future development of any type heart issue going forward.