The heart has long been considered the most important organ in the body.
In the fourth century B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that our intelligence stemmed from the heart. During the Renaissance, the heart was seen as the center of emotion. People also marveled at its power and how it worked. The great artist Leonardo DaVinci drew a detailed study of the heart, examining its chambers and trying to understand how this remarkable muscle operated.
Today we have a much more precise understanding of the heart. And even though it’s not the organ that directly allows us to think or feel, it plays a pretty significant role in keeping us healthy and alive. That’s why so many of us make sure we do our best to take care of our heart and cardiovascular system. Here’s a closer look at our heart and what keeps it ticking.
How it Works
The simplest way to think of your heart is that it is a pump. The heart is responsible for circulating blood throughout your body, which provides oxygen and nutrients to all the other organs and keeps things running smoothly. How much work does your heart do? According to the American Heart Association, the average adult heart beats about 100,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood a day. That means that by age 70, your heart will have beaten more than 2.5 billon times.
Your heart consists of four chambers. (The two upper chambers are called atria, and the two lower chambers are called ventricles.) Blood flows in and out of these chambers through one-way valves. The valves closing cause the thumping noise you associate with your heartbeat.
The heart powers the larger cardiovascular system in your body. The system also includes your arteries and veins, which carry blood. The left ventricle pumps out oxygen-rich blood, which then flows through the body through the arteries. Once depleted of oxygen, the blood travels back to the heart via your veins and enters through the right ventricle. Blood is then sent to the lungs to get a new supply of oxygen, and goes back to the heart for continuous circulation.
What You Can Do
Your heart is made of cardiac muscle, which, unlike other muscles in the body, never gets tired. That’s why this amazing organ can pump 24/7. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take good care of your heart, though. It’s pretty simple to maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, like most things it starts with diet and exercise.
The simplest way to think of your heart is that it is a pump.
A daily regimen of exercise means you’ll give your heart a good workout and keep the blood flowing in the body. The American Heart Association recommends that people should aim for either 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Of course watching what you eat is also important. It’s a good idea to figure out how many calories you should be eating in order to maintain a healthy weight. And eating vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish are always smart choices. It’s also easy to include in your diet vitamins and supplements that support heart health. Here are some of our most popular.
Co Q-10 is a key antioxidant and an important compound in your body that contributes to cardiovascular wellness and energy production within your heart.** If you’re looking to support a healthy heart and blood-pressure levels that are within a normal range, Co Q-10 does just that.** It also promotes oral and gum health, which is linked to cardiovascular health.**
Fatty Acids – Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 – are important for metabolic and cellular health.** Omega-3 Fatty Acids’ role in heart health is particularly noteworthy.** The National Institutes of Health recognizes that Omega-3 from fish oil can be beneficial for several cardiovascular measures.** Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See supplement facts panel for omega-3 content. They also help maintain triglyceride levels that are already within a normal range.**
Flax is one of the best plant sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acids (ALA). It’s a natural source of heart healthy nutrients that contribute to cardiovascular health**. Flax is also a great option for vegetarians who can’t consume fish oil.
Phytosterols are compounds which occur naturally in vegetable oils and fat, but are not synthesized in humans.** Phytosterols have been identified as one of the reasons why Mediterranean diets are so heart healthy.**