So You Want a Healthy Heart, Do You?

Did you know that heart disease and stroke claim 2200 American lives per day? That's 1 death every 39 seconds! The American Heart Association projects that if we continue this trend, the cost of heart disease will triple by the year 2030. I don't know about you, but that really scares me! Whether you have a loved one or know someone with heart issues or not, you'll be paying for it. Everybody will.

In December 2011, the American Heart Association issued it's  Annual Heart Health Report Card. The good news is that the death rate dropped more than 30% between 1998 and 2008. The bad news is that it was not because Americans are choosing healthier lifestyles. It's actually because of advanced medical treatments and new medical therapies. Here's what Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, chair of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine stated, "We have a major tsunami that is threatening us. That is the obesity epidemic, which has been with us for 25 years. We are seeing the leading edge of this tsunami that is going to reverse many of the gains we have achieved in the last 40 years. We need to get serious about the obesity epidemic yesterday."

So it's clear that there's a direct connection between obesity and heart disease. Whether you want to admit it or not, obesity is preventable with the right nutrition and physical activity. So let's get our priorities in order: eat healthy and get active! The Mayo Clinic has given us an 8 Step Food Plan and I've included some additional suggestions to maintain a healthy heart.

Mayo Clinic: 8 Step Plan

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Choose mono-unsaturated oils such as olive or canola oil or poly-unsaturated fats such as nuts and omega 3 fatty acids.

2. Choose low-fat protein sources: lean meat, poultry with the skin removed, fish, low-fat dairy, egg whites or substitutes, legumes, beans, peas, and lentils.

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits-they have a multitude of vitamins and minerals, they are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and have plant sterols that lower cholesterol.

4. Consume more whole grains such as wheat bread or brown rice. Whole grains have fiber and are good for weight management.

5. Reduce sodium intake-eat fresh food, not canned food. Processed foods tend to have high sodium levels, so read the labels.

6. Control your portion size-read the serving suggestions and don't have more than one helping.

7. Plan ahead by creating daily menus.

8. Allow yourself an occasional treat. It's ok to have a small serving of dark chocolate. However the key word is occasional.

Supplements That Support Heart Health

1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: the most researched are the omega 3's from fish oil.

2. Coenzyme Q10: supports energy production in the heart, promotes and protects healthy arteries against LDL oxidation, and helps replenish and maintain CoQ10 levels in the blood.

3. B Vitamins-folic acid, B6, and B12. These B vitamins lower blood levels of homocysteine (indicators for atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, blood clot formation, and Alzheimers).

4. Fiber bars and fiber powder can be added to meals to promote healthy weight and a healthy heart.

5. Plant sterols and stanals will not give you side effects like statin drugs will. Your body will respond better to a  natural plant-based sterols and stanals supplement.

We can't ignore that last tip: Exercise!!

 

 

Any type of physical activity you do will power a healthy heart. The optimal physical activity level is considered to be 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular activity daily. Some people choose a brisk walk for 1 hour per day. My favorite type of exercise is aerobics. Whatever you decide, make it something you enjoy...and please gradually work up to optimum levels if you have been inactive for a long time. You can also view some weight management strategies in one of my previous posts Steps 2 and 3 To Weight Loss-Food and Exercise. These tips are meant to help you get back on the right track.

Remember you can't be so focused on heart disease that you stress over it. That could bring on problems, even though you are really trying to do everything right.  Do the best you can, don't beat yourself up over not being perfect at everything everyday. You are way ahead of the game just by knowing the above information and caring about yourself.

 

I welcome your comments and added suggestions. Please share this with others you feel will benefit from this information.

Your Resident Health Nut,

Renee

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic www.mayoclinic.com

American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

Annual Heart Health Report Card http://www.ktvq.com/news/us-heart-health-lots-of-room-for-improvement/

Shaklee Hotline News February 2012: Science Talk-Heart-Healthy Living

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