Take your hands and clasp them together by interlocking your fingers. Your heart, the hardest working muscle in your body, is about this size. While most people know the heart is key to getting oxygen around the body, few understand just how much of a workhorse it is. This small but mighty organ beats about 100,000 times per day – and over a seventy-five year lifespan, it will beat more than 2.5 billion times. A healthy heart is powerful enough to pump over a gallon of blood each minute into the aorta. From there, the blood moves through the rest of the body transporting oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other compounds.
While your heart is the powerhouse of the circulatory system, its impact is felt from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Over 60,0000 miles of capillaries, arteries and veins link the heart to key organs. Blood traveling through this network is estimated to take 20 seconds to go from the heart, out to the organs, and back to the heart again.
All of this happens every day of our lives with little effort on our part, and certainly not much fanfare. This month, American Heart Month, is an appropriate time to recognize just how incredible the human heart is. Here are a few small ways to say thank you to your heart this month and every month:
Enjoy a diverse array of vegetables.
The phytochemicals present in vegetables protect against heart disease in many different ways, including limiting the fat buildup in arteries and dilating blood vessels.
Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Found in fish, walnuts, and flax seeds, these healthy fats are building blocks for compounds that reduce inflammation.
Opt for whole grains.
Whole grains have more fiber and antioxidants when compared to refined grains. These compounds have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, which are related to heart disease risk.