The left atrium is just one of the crucial chambers of the heart, located in the upper half of the heart on the left side (as the name might suggest).
Like all parts of the heart, the left atrium plays an important role in ensuring good health. This segment receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and pumps it through the aortic valve to distribute throughout the body in the circulatory system.
Most of the time, the left atrium does its job well throughout a person’s entire life. However, when people fail to care for the heart properly, the left atrium can become enlarged. This can sometimes lead to significant health problems.
What Causes Left Atrium Enlargement
There are various factors that affect the size of the left atrium throughout a person’s life. For instance, a patient’s age will naturally have an impact on their heart’s performance, though age alone isn’t a cause of left atrium enlargement. Instead, the changes happening to the body as an individual begins to age may contribute to the changing size of the left atrium.
Men also often have bigger left atriums than women, and like most things in heart health, the bigger someone is (weight wise) the more the size of the atrium will increase.
Left atrium enlargement is also a common concern for people with high blood pressure. Reviews of studies taken over the last 12 years or so found that left atrial enlargement is present in around 16 to 83% of people with untreated or treated high blood pressure.
How Dietary Changes Affect Atrial Enlargement
There are various steps that you can take to reduce the risk of heart issues, and potentially minimize the chances of left atrial enlargement. Getting more exercise (particularly cardio) into the daily routine is a good start. Reducing a patient’s exposure to stress is another step in the right direction.
One of the easiest ways to start making a positive change, however, is to make dietary changes.
Dietary changes will reduce things like high blood pressure and obesity, which strengthen the chances of heart issues. At the same time, a dietary change also makes it easier to give the heart the nutrients it needs to thrive.
1. Cut back on Salt and Cholesterol
The first dietary change to make when you want to protect the heart, is to cut back on salt. Too much salt contributes to an increased risk of high blood pressure, which increases the risk of left atrial enlargement, among other heart conditions. Experts should encourage a reduction of salt intake. The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day – the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt – and ideally, no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. On average, we consume more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day.
Another substance that patients with heart issues may need to cut down on is cholesterol. To ensure good health, individuals must control their cholesterol intake.
2. Replace meat and dairy with fish, whole grains and plant proteins
Unfortunately, the saturated fats in animal foods like milk, meat, and cheese just aren’t great for heart health. These are the kinds of fats that are more likely to contribute to heart disease and strokes. Saturated fat needs to have a minimal place in any diet.
A good way to switch things up is to replace saturated fats with unsaturated options. The unsaturated fats in fish, grains and plant proteins reduce the risk of heart disease, protect you from abnormal heart conditions, and more. This makes fish a valuable food choice for those protecting against left atrium enlargement. Avoid any trans-fats and trans fatty acids too, these are common problems in processed foods.
3. Discover more heart-healthy recipes
For a healthy heart and a better weight, it’s usually a good idea to pack meals full of as many fruits and vegetables as possible. These nutrients provide large amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber for the lowest number of calories. Moreover, they are packed with antioxidants that reduce risk of developing heart disease, such as left atrium enlargement.
Aim for about five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and stay away from anything loaded with sugar and saturated or trans fat. At the same time, different methods of food preparation may be more effective for protecting the heart. Steaming veggies can maximize their flavors without covering them in fat or salt.
Using Mushrooms for Heart Health
Transforming a heart-healthy diet could even involve the use of supplements. Mushrooms, for instance, are some of the best products for reducing heart concerns. However, not all people like the taste of mushrooms, and many have a hard time getting the right quantity into their diet.
For instance, shiitake mushrooms are extremely good for heart health. They’re proven to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) in vivo models, and they also inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the liver too.
Shiitake mushrooms are also packed full of phytonutrients, which help to improve circulation and blood sugar. Other medicinal mushrooms like Maitake can also help to reduce cholesterol and overweight, which directly influence cardiovascualr health. Others like Reishi, Royal Sun Agaricus and Coprinus can help too in the control of blood lipids and sugars.
Accessing mushrooms in the form of concentrated supplements will boost the impact that these fungi can have on heart performance. Plus, supplements don’t cause issues for people who don’t like the taste of mushroom.
Protecting the Heart
Protecting the heart is easier than you think.
To defend against left atrium enlargement, patients should consider not just a more mindful diet, but the use of powerful supplements to improve their nutritional approach to good health.