February is Heart Awareness Month. While candy hearts take most of the glory, this month also encourages us all to think about this hardworking, muscular organ that beats around 35 million times in a year! 
The heart is part of your cardiovascular system, which also consists of blood vessels. The heart has two big duties that every cell in the body continually depends on:
- Carrying oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
- Removing carbon dioxide and other waste out of the body 
With such a complex system, plenty of things could go wrong. Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term to describe problems with the cardiac muscle as well as the vascular system that nourishes the heart and other organs.  While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, all heart diseases are cardiovascular diseases. but not all cardiovascular diseases are heart disease. 
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, claiming more lives each year than cancer and chronic lung disease combined. Globally, cardiovascular diseases have increased. In fact, over a 10-year period, the number has increased 14.5 percent. 
What Causes Heart Disease?
Blood vessels called arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart throughout the body. When pockets of fatty deposits called plaque build up in the arteries, they limit blood flow.
Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is a disease where plaque builds up inside the arteries.  When a plaque breaks, a heart attack or stroke can occur.  In developed countries, atherosclerosis is also the leading cause of cardiovascular death. 
Atherosclerosis can result from damage or injury to the inner layer of an artery. Many factors contribute to this damage, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Smoking and other sources of tobacco
- Insulin resistance
- Inflammation 
Over time, this damage can block the blood flow to the heart, leading to a heart attack. The more of the above risk factors you have, the greater your chances of developing heart disease. 
Heart Health Starts with Your Diet
Your family history and age can both increase your risk factors for heart disease. Even so, plenty of these risk factors are within your control.
To maintain stellar heart health, you need to remove what interferes with a healthy heart, and provide the body with nutrients it needs to thrive. Sugary, processed foods, not getting enough healthy foods like fruit and vegetables, and too much alcohol can all interfere with heart health. 
To create a healthy heart, remove those offenders and increase the foods that support heart health. Our Core and Advanced Plans contain plenty of nutrient-rich foods that allow the body to perform optimally. Both of our plans include cruciferous vegetables, which contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates.
The body breaks down a glucosinolate called glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. While praised for its anti-cancer benefits, sulforaphane can also protect against cardiovascular disease.
Our Turkey and Vegetable Stir-Fry Over Rice Pasta combines several sulfur-containing, heart-healthy superstars: Broccoli florets, garlic, and onion. Ginger provides extra antioxidants and anti-inflammatory support for a healthy heart. 
5 More Ways to Love Your Heart
Studies show that along with a healthy diet, regular physical activity, not smoking, and other healthy lifestyle factors can reduce heart disease by close to 80 percent.  Combine these five factors with our Core or Advanced Plans and you have the perfect formula for heart health.
- Exercise regularly. The heart is a muscle. Bursts of high-intensity exercise keep muscles including the heart strong and functioning well. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a fast, efficient exercise plan for both general health and preventing heart-related problems.  Our Max T3 program packs an intense, full-body workout in just 12 minutes, all in the comfort of your home.
- Manage stress. Chronic stressors – things like job stress, marital unhappiness, and the burden of caregiving – can interfere with heart health. Studies show that learning to become more resilient to the inevitable stress that life doles out can dampen these effects. This article shows you 16 ways to relieve stress naturally.
- Create better sleep. One study looked at 60,586 adults aged 40 years or older. Researchers found that both not getting enough sleep – about six hours or less – and poor sleep quality increased the risk of coronary heart disease, which can contribute to heart attacks, stroke, and more.  Aim for eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, use Sleep + Mood Formula.
- Visit your chiropractor. Chiropractors can help manage risk factors for heart health, including high blood pressure. One study found that a chiropractic adjustment could significantly lower high blood pressure. In fact, this adjustment had an effect equivalent to two blood pressure medications. Chiropractors can also custom-design a nutrient and lifestyle protocol for your condition. You can learn more about chiropractic care and find a chiropractor near you here.
- Get the right nutrient support. A healthy heart depends on the right nutrients. Our Cardiovascular Wellness Bundle combines Garlic + Parsley Oil Blend and Broccoli Blend to provide sulforaphane and other critical heart-supporting nutrients. Most people don’t eat large amounts of cruciferous vegetables to get sufficient sulforaphane, which is especially high in broccoli sprouts. Likewise, most people don’t eat the amount of garlic to get its highly bioactive compounds. These two supplements, combined in our Cardiovascular Wellness Bundle, offer a practical approach to get critical amounts of key nutrients to promote heart health.
About the Author
Jason Boehm is a Chicago, IL-based nutritionist and science writer. He combines his two Master’s Degrees in Mass Communication and Nutrition to help others achieve their wellness goals through science-based, engaging written content.