From the Desk of The Nutty Nutritionist

Strategies for Preventing Heart Disease

In Managing cholesterol, Wellness on February 15, 2012 at 8:34 PM

February is Heart Awareness Month—a time in which the American Heart Association ramps up it’s awareness campaign in the fight against heart disease.  Did you know your personal lifestyle habits have a great impact on your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke during your lifetime?  It’s true!  In other words, heart disease is PREVENTABLE—through the development of good-for-you lifestyle habits such as a healthy diet, weight control, regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress management, you can significantly reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, and more importantly, dying from it.  Did you know more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined?  Most women don’t realize this, but there are statistics to prove it.  Yes, breast cancer screening is important for a woman’s health, but so is the adoption of healthy lifestyle practices that will keep her heart happy as well.

I’ll keep this easy.  A simple list of “do’s & don’ts” is outlined below.  Follow these guidelines and you are on your way to preventing heart disease, regardless of whether you are a man or woman, young or old.  It is never too early to develop heart-healthy habits!

Add more of these: 

Healthy oils: monounsaturated fats from olive, canola, peanut oils; avocado; nuts and seeds; and polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3’s, from fatty fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil

Fruits & vegetables:  choose a variety of deep colors for maximum antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect such as sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, broccoli, tomato products, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, and red grapes

Herbs & Spices:  get anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefit from garlic, cinnamon, basil, cumin, paprika, etc.

Low-fat dairy:  choose low-fat or fat free milk and yogurt for extra potassium and calcium to help lower blood pressure

High fiber foods:  all unprocessed whole grains are healthy, but those high in soluble fiber, such as oats and barley, as well as legumes (dried beans) help lower cholesterol 

Heart-healthy beverages:  green tea, coffee, coconut water, red wine

Exercise:  sustained heart-pounding activity for at least 150 minutes per week

Limit or avoid these: 

Sodium:  new guidelines suggest less than 1500 mg per day for all adults;  check labels on processed food items and avoid those with more than 400 mg sodium per serving; choose foods considered low sodium (< 140 mg per serving) or very low sodium ( < 40 mg per serving)

Saturated fat:  cut down on high fat meats, dairy products (cheese, cream, butter) and desserts

Trans fat:  avoid foods made with hydrogenated oils (processed; deep fried; baked goods)

Sugars:  liquid beverages, such as soda, lemonade, and fruit juices raise triglyceride levels; limit sweets overall

Processed foods:  packaged foods are often higher in sodium and made with refined flour

Alcohol:  can help raise healthy HDL cholesterol levels, but must be consumed moderately:  no more than 1 drink per day for women; 2 drinks per day for men (1.5 oz liquor, 12 oz. beer, 5 oz wine)

Extra pounds:  losing 10% of current body weight can lower your risk of heart disease (i.e. 20 # loss for 200 # person)

Cigarettes:  stop smoking…the best decision you can make for your heart

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?  For more ideas on eating healthy and leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, visit www.heart.org or www.dashdiet.org

From my heart to yours 😉   Cheers!

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