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.