One in three adults has some form of heart/cardiovascular disease. That means that 33 percent of you are the “one in three” who really need to make healthy eating a priority. Most of the deaths and risk factors for heart disease are preventable. Your food choices have a big impact on your heart’s health, even if you have other risk factors. Sure, some risk factors you can’t change such as age, family history and gender, but concentrate on what you can control in your life.
Here are words to live by – Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. You cannot control the gene card you’ve been dealt but you can improve your body’s ability to win the eating game.
Three lifestyle changes that you can control and should control include: 1) high cholesterol, 2) high blood pressure and 3) excess weight. All three above will improve by controlling you’re eating choices and developing a heart healthy plan.
Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle is the first step to winning at the game of life. The two most obvious and powerful areas to change and maintain are diet and weight management. Regular physical activity, quitting smoking and managing stress are also essential to weight management.
A heart-healthy diet
To lower your risk of heart disease, your diet should be:
- Low in saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in some meats, dairy products, baked goods and deep-fried and processed foods, Trans fats are found in some fried and unprocessed foods. Both types of fat raise you LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level.
- High in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in omega-3s include fish and olive oil. Mackerel, lake trout, herring sardines, and albacore tuna, salmon and halibut are the highest in omega-3’s.
- High in fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in these elements helps lower LDL cholesterol as well as provides nutrients that may help protect against heart disease. Foods high in soluble fiber include oatmeal, kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Berries, especially blueberries are high in antioxidants and protect the heart.
- Low in salt and sugar. A low-salt diet can help manage blood pressure, while a low-salt diet can help manage blood pressure, while a low-sugar diet can help prevent weight gain and control diabetes and pre-diabetes.
If you are a high risk for heart disease or already have heart disease, your first step should be to meet with a registered dietitian. Together with your health-care provider, your RD can help you lower your risk to improve your existing condition by developing a personalized eating and lifestyle plan that will pamper our heart and the rest of you.
For more information on Heart Healthy Diets Made Easy and to learn the essential changes needed to pamper your heart, join me from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Pilgrims Market for a free interactive seminar. Also, Kootenai Heart Center will be conducting low-cost Heart to Heart screenings (cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides and glucose levels) for the month of February. Call (208) 666-2083 for an appointment. Screenings will be held in the Heart Center lobby, next to Kootenai Medical Center’s Emergency Department.