The heart – a high-performance organ
The cardiovascular system consists of the heart as a “motor” and the blood vessels as the “transport routes”. An adult heart is roughly as big as a man’s fist and weighs about 300 g. Our heart must deliver a top performance throughout our lifetime: right from the very first heartbeat in our mother’s womb, the muscle pumps blood through the circulatory system with every beat. The entire volume of blood (4-6 litres) in an adult body flows through the whole organism once within 20-60 seconds.
Blood vessels as transport routes
Blood vessels transport the blood through the body and thus ensure that the tissue is provided with oxygen and nutrients, while also disposing of metabolic end products. There are different kinds of blood vessels: arteries, veins and capillaries. Arteries are vessels that transport the oxygen-rich blood away from the heart. They are connected to very fine blood vessels, the capillaries, more than 30,000 million of which supply the individual body cells. The deoxygenated blood is taken back to the heart via the veins together with the metabolic end products.
The right nutrition
Mediterranean food is regarded as good for the heart. The traditional diet in Mediterranean countries is rich in fruit and vegetables and also wholegrain products. Fish is consumed frequently, but meat is only eaten in moderation. Fish, and in particular fatty sea fish (such as salmon and mackerel), is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and also vitamin B1 help to keep the heart functioning normally.
Useful tips for heart and vessels
In addition to healthy nutrition, there are a number of other measures which can help your heart and vessels: keep an eye on your weight, in particular if rolls of fat have formed around your stomach. Schedule regular exercise into your life as even 30 minutes of brisk walking or cycling per day is sufficient. Smoking damages more than just the lungs – it is a significant risk factor for the vessels as well and so nicotine and excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided. Make a conscious effort to relax and plan periods of rest into your hectic everyday life. Reap the greatest benefits from this relaxation and go for a walk, for example.