LAKE OCONEE — February is American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and unfortunately, most of us know someone who has been affected by it. I lost my father to a massive heart attack when he was just 52 years old. Heart disease is no laughing matter. The ugly truth is that one in three deaths in the United States is a result of heart disease or stroke. This equals about 2,200 deaths per day. Ten things that put you at greater risk of heart disease are: Age, Sex, Family History, Race, Smoking, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Inactivity, Weight and Diabetes. The risk factors that can’t be changed are your age, your sex and your family history, but the rest of them are totally controlled by YOU. What you eat or do not eat, if you smoke, or if you’re physically inactive, are all choice made by you and can directly affect your health. What WILL you do to decrease your risk? Here are some suggestions.
Avoid saturated fats.
Sources of saturated fat include: fatty meat. poultry skin, whole milk, lard, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, butter, cream and cottonseed oil.
Avoid Trans Fats.
Read ingredient lists to make sure that the foods you choose do not contain partially hydrogenated oils. Sources of trans fats: stick and tub margarine, fried foods, packaged foods such as cake mixes, frozen waffles, frozen pies, Bisquick or ramen noodles.
Choose healthier sources of fat.
Choose: olive oil, canola oil, walnut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Eat fatty fish at least two times each week. The following are fatty fish: salmon, tuna, mackerel, bluefish, mullet, anchovies, herring and sardines.
Decrease the amount of sugar you consume.
The biggest culprits are sugary beverages such as sweet tea, regular soda, sports drinks and some fruit juices. Then the obvious: cookies, cakes and candies.
Eat several sources of soluble fiber each day.
Good sources include: citrus fruits, apples, pears, prunes, peaches, plums, barley, oats, legumes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and carrots.
Increase your intake of foods that contain calcium and vitamin D.
Good sources of calcium include: milk, milk products, fortified orange juice, fortified breads, fortified cereals, beans, dried figs, calcium-fortified tofu, canned salmon with bones, almonds, dark-green leafy vegetables and broccoli.
Eat plenty of potassium-rich foods.
These include: potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas, oranges, halibut, lima beans, tuna, swiss chard, acorn squash, tomatoes, watermelon, grapes, raisins, pistachios, flounder, parsnips, pinto beans, wheat germ, brussels sprouts, prunes, spinach, salmon, cantaloupe, lentils, milk and milk products.
Decrease your sodium consumption to 1,500 mg per day.
Eat several servings of nuts each week.
The best kinds of nuts are: walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans and pistachios.
Choose cereals that contain more than 5 g of fiber/serving.
Good choices include: Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat, Grape-Nuts and Fiber One.
I don’t expect anyone to tackle all of this at once. Pick a couple a week and commit to making a change. Cut the following chart out, tape it to the fridge and start checking away at better heart health.
What did you commit to?
- I will avoid saturated fats.
- I will read ingredient lists to make sure that the foods I choose do not contain partially hydrogenated oils.
- I will choose healthier sources of fat.
- I will eat fatty fish at least two times each week.
- I will decrease the amount of sugar that I consume.
- I will eat several sources of soluble fiber each day.
- I will increase my intake of foods that contain calcium and vitamin D.
- I will eat plenty of potassium-rich foods.
- I will eat more fresh herbs.
- I will eat several servings of nuts each week.
- I will choose cereals that contain more than 5 g of fiber/serving.
If you have a nutrition question you’d like answered in this column send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Question for the Breeze” as the subject title.
Lisa Eisele, RD, CSO, LD, can be reached at (706) 473-5801.