Your Heart on Healthy Happy Habits

February 12, 2010 in Diabetes Management, Health Claims, Nutrition, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

I wanted to post something in honor of Heart Health Month. My mind started racing…… I can write about this …………. I can write about that ……. Oh goodness! I don’t have enough time to write all that stuff. So I’ll list some of the main points to review if you’re determined to keep your heart as healthy as possible. The most important take away lesson of this post is to be fully convinced that you and your lifestyle choices can make a big impact on your heart health. It is absolutely not just genetics. The suggestions below can make a real impact on your heart health.

Heart disease used to be thought of as a man’s problem, yet it’s likely that more women than men will die from it this year. Heart disease is now the leading cause of death in women. So the point is that men and women are all in this together. There are things that we can do to greatly reduce our risk of being a victim of this disease.  Here is a list of many of those good things.

  1. Fat
  2. While it is known that you need some fat in your diet, many Americans are getting way too much. Be careful with your fat intake. Fat is the building block that your body uses to make cholesterol. Strive to choose monounsaturated fats (extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocado) and omega-3s (fish, whole grains, flax, walnuts). Avoid trans fats like the plague (if you find the word ‘hydrogenated’ on the ingredient list, find a different product). Be very careful with saturated fats (meats, poultry, butter, and hard cheese like Swiss and cheddar). Strive not to choose deep fat frying to prepare your meals.

  3. Whole Grains
  4. Be sure that your pasta, breads, muffins, pancakes, crackers are made with whole grains.  Whole grains loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids are related with lower risk of heart attacks.

  5. Fish
  6. Strive to have at least two fish meals per week. Budget problems? Don’t forget canned salmon or canned tuna, which will fit into the budget more easily than fresh fish.

  7. Strive for 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day, minimum
  8. This not only gives you nutrients that reduce your risk of heart disease, but vegetables are relatively low in calories, which means you can be satisfied on fewer calories, helping you manage your weight.

  9. Nuts and legumes are foods to include
  10. Nuts and beans are powerful packages of antioxidants and other phytonutrients. Nuts are high in calories, but nip a hunger attack in the bud.  Just be careful, you’ll need to control the portion size.

  11. Use meat sparingly, especially red meat
  12. Fill up on vegetables, beans, fruits and whole grains.

  13. Don’t forget fruit
  14. Fruit has many nutrients besides potassium that it’s so famous for, in helping with healthy blood pressure.

  15. Exercise – Get active

    No post about heart health would be complete without encouraging physical activity. I believe the most important decision related to exercise, is to find something that you will do – something that will fit into your lifestyle. If you’ve been inactive for a long time, be sure to check with your physician first. Strive to exercise 5 – 6 times per week and include some strength training. Walking is a great place to start.

  16. Keep the saltshaker and your blood pressure under control

    Eating out and using processed foods are the greatest contributors of sodium in our diet. When cooking at home, learn a bit about herbs and spices, it will help to make the foods really delicious without so much salt.

  17. If you smoke, do whatever you can to stop

    With all the research related to smoking and hearts, I probably don’t need to say anything about this issue; other than, “I truly send my very best wishes for your successful quitting.” Be very careful to avoid secondhand smoke too, because it’s very hard on your heart.

  18. Maintain a normal weight

    If your weight and body mass index are above normal, designing new healthy patterns that include more vegetables, fruit, whole grains and exercise and less meat, cheese, fat, processed and fast foods; you’re off to a good start in the right direction.

  19. Get enough sleep

    Sleep deprivation causes your body to release stress hormones that constrict arteries and cause inflammation.

  20. If you have diabetes, get it under control

    Out of control diabetes leads to heart damage, heart attacks and death.

  21. Stress and anger management

Stress and anger can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It’s worth your time to learn what works for you, to lead you to lower stress, control and minimization of anger and a healthier, happier you.

You’ll thank yourself one day for taking care of your heart – love it and care for it, and it will return the favor.

I hope you will choose some aspects listed above to work on this year. I hope you realize that whether you’re a man or a woman, life-style changes can have an important and significant impact on the reduction of your risk for heart disease. It’s worth the effort; let’s start somewhere – eat better, sleep better and get moving.

I'm sending you a Valentine wish - I care about your healthy happy heart and hoping that this blog is helping you to move closer and closer to the health that we desire. Happy Valentine's Day, Sending my very best wishes for a Lovely, Day. Joyce

Salt (sodium) is only one aspect of a healthy heart.

Limiting salt (sodium) is only one aspect of a healthy heart.

This Amaryllis keeps going; bringing color to the winter - thought: Maybe flowers instead of candy.

This Amaryllis keeps going; bringing color to the winter - thought: Maybe flowers instead of candy for Valentine's Day.