Tag Archives: Heart Health

Stocking a Heart Healthy Kitchen

Did you know…
  • Heart disease is the 2nd and stroke is the 6th leading cause of death in SD
  • Together cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for 27.5% of all deaths in SD
  • Risk factors for CVD include high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol
We know that saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and too much sodium has a negative effect on blood pressure. One way to keep your heart protected and your blood pressure and cholesterol in check is eating a healthy, balanced diet. 

Heart-healthy foods are essential for a heart-healthy diet, so be prepared with a well-stocked kitchen. This means always having some basic ingredients in your cabinets, pantry, fridge and freezer. It can save time and worry on those busy days when you don’t have a chance to get to the grocery store. Check out this list of staple ingredients for healthy meals from the American Heart Association.

Cabinets and Pantry

  • Dry beans like black beans, chickpeas, pinto and red beans
  • Canned “dinner builder” items like beans, chicken, salmon, tuna and soup
  • Canned vegetables for adding to soup, rice, pasta and sauces (like carrots, corn, green beans, peas, pumpkin and tomatoes)
  • Canned and dried fruits like apple sauce, dates, oranges, peaches, pineapple and raisins (look for items with no added sugars)
  • Whole-grain pasta, brown rice and other easy whole grains like couscous and quinoa
  • Whole grain bread or tortillas (if you don’t use it daily, store in the freezer)
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats, instant oatmeal and whole-grain cereal for a quick breakfast
  • Whole-wheat flour, oat flour and cornmeal for baking
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters for healthy snacking
  • Healthy cooking oils like canola, corn or olive (buy in limited amounts because they can go rancid over time)
  • Balsamic vinegar and low-sodium soy sauce for salad dressings and sauces
  • Spaghetti or marinara sauce in jars
  • Low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth for making soup
  • Dried herbs and spices, salt-free seasoning blend, pepper

Fridge and Freezer

  • Frozen vegetables without salty sauces make easy sides and add-ins (like broccoli, cauliflower, mixed vegetables, spinach and squash)
  • Frozen fruits without added sugars for cereal, yogurt and smoothies (like berries, mixed fruit, peaches)
  • Low-fat/non-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Frozen meats like fish fillets, skinless chicken breasts or lean ground beef
  • Soft margarine with no trans fat (made with non-hydrogenated vegetable oils, usually in a tub)

Make it a habit to compare nutrition labels. Choose products with the lowest amounts of sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat that you can find in your store.

Source: American Heart Association

Do you know the risks?

Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States and are in the top five leading causes of death in South Dakota. Many people mistakenly think of heart disease and stroke as conditions that only affect older adults. However, a large number of younger people suffer heart attacks and strokes. With 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes happening every year in the United States, it’s important to know the risks. The good news is that many of the major risk factors can be prevented and controlled. Check out this infographic to learn about the risk factors and common signs of a heart attack or stroke.

 

Sources:  Million Hearts® and 2010 Vital Stat Report

Added Sugar in Diet Tied to Death Risk From Heart Trouble

Sugar can be ‘hidden’ in savory foods as well as desserts and soda, experts note

Doctors have long thought extra sugar in a person’s diet is harmful to heart health because it promotes chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

But the added sugar Americans consume as part of their daily diet can — on its own, regardless of other health problems — more than double the risk of death from heart disease, a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.

The average American diet contains enough added sugar to increase the risk of heart-related death by nearly 20 percent, the researchers said.

And the risk of death from heart disease is more than doubled for the 10 percent of Americans who receive a quarter of their daily calories from sugar that’s been added to food, said CDC researcher and study lead author Quanhe Yang.

The findings were published online Feb. 3, 2014 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

“They’re seeing that people who are moderately heavy consumers of added sugar have a heightened risk of dying of [heart] disease, and the heaviest users have the highest risk of dying of [heart] disease,” said Laura Schmidt, who wrote an accompanying journal commentary. “When you start seeing a dose-response reaction like they found, that is powerful evidence that consuming added sugar puts people at risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”

Food manufacturers add sugar to many different products to improve flavor, appearance or texture. People who eat those varied products might not be aware that they have increased their total sugar intake, because the sugar is hidden inside the food, the researchers said.

About 37 percent of the added sugar in Americans’ diets comes from sugar-sweetened beverages, the authors said. One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar (about 140 calories), Yang said — enough to put the person into a higher-risk category if they drink soda daily.

“I could be eating a 2,000-calorie diet, not overeating, not overweight. But if I just drink a can of soda a day, I increase my risk of dying from [heart] disease by one-third,” said Schmidt, a professor of health policy at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. “I think people would assume one can of soda a day would not have that kind of impact over the course of their lives.”

Other major sources of added sugar include cakes, pies, fruit drinks, candy, and ice cream and other dairy desserts, the researchers said.

Added sugar can even be found in foods most people would consider savory, such as salad dressing, bread and ketchup, Schmidt said. Another major offender is yogurt, which often comes with as much sugar as you’d find in candy.

Previous research has focused exclusively on the health effects of sugary beverages, Yang said. For the new study, the research team decided to look at how the total amount of added sugar in the American diet can affect the risk of heart-related death.

Recommendations for added sugar consumption vary, and there is no universally accepted threshold for unhealthy levels.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that added sugar make up less than 25 percent of total calories, the World Health Organization recommends less than 10 percent and the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to less than 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories daily for men, according to background information included in the study.

The researchers used national health survey data to review consumption of added sugar. They found that added sugar made up an average of 14.9 percent of daily calories in the American diet from 2005 to 2010, down from 15.7 percent from 1988 to 1994 and 16.8 percent from 1999 to 2004.

Nearly three of four adults consumed 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar, while about 10 percent of adults consumed a quarter or more of their calories from added sugar in the latest study years.

The researchers then compared data on sugar consumption with data on death from heart disease.

The risk of heart-related death increases 18 percent with the average American diet that receives about 15 percent of daily calories from added sugar, compared to diets containing little to no added sugar, the study authors found.

The risk is 38 percent higher for people who receive 17 percent to 21 percent of their calories from added sugar, and more than double for people who get more than 21 percent of their daily diet from added sugar, Yang said.

Although the study found that eating more food with added sugar was tied to a higher risk of heart-related death, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The Corn Refiners Association, which represents the manufacturers of one popular form of added sugar, fructose, said it had no comment on the study.

Commentary author Schmidt said added sugar could be increasing heart attack risk by disrupting a person’s hormone system, throwing their metabolism out of whack.

By comparison, foods that are naturally rich in sugar — such as fruit — also contain lots of fiber and other nutrients, which reduces the impact the sugar has on the body, said Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and chairwoman of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee.

To avoid added sugar, read Nutrition Facts and ingredients labels carefully, Johnson said. Look out for ingredients that end in -ose, such as fructose or sucrose, as well as any type of syrup. “Brown rice syrup sounds really healthy, but it’s actually a sugar,” Johnson said.

For more about a heart-healthy diet, visit the American Heart Association.

Source: Health Day News; Added Sugar in Diet Tied to Death Risk From Heart Trouble by Dennis Thompson

What Is TLC?

TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) is a set of lifestyle changes that can help you lower your LDL cholesterol. TLC includes:

  • A cholesterol-lowering diet (the TLC diet)
  • Weight management
  • Physical activity

The TLC diet recommends:

  • Limiting the amount of saturated fat, trans-fat, and cholesterol you eat
  • Eating only enough calories to achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  • Increasing the soluble fiber in your diet by eating foods such as oatmeal, kidney beans, and apples
  • Adding cholesterol-lowering foods, such as juices or margarines that contain plant sterols or stanols

Weight management means if you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol.

Regular physical activity is recommended for everyone. It can help raise HDL the good cholesterol and it can help lower LDL the bad cholesterol levels.

Learn more about the TLC diet.

Tips to lower cholesterol

Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Has your doctor said you have high cholesterol? Then you know you need to change your diet and lifestyle to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Even if your doctor prescribed a cholesterol drug to bring levels down, you’ll still need to change your diet and become more active for heart health. These simple tips can help you keep cholesterol levels in check.

Cholesterol, Good and Bad
Your body needs a small amount of cholesterol to function properly. But we may get too much saturated fat and cholesterol in our diet, and both raise levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in arteries, leading to heart disease. HDL “good” cholesterol, on the other hand, helps clear bad cholesterol from your blood. You want to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, starting with your diet.

Portion Control: Lend a Hand
Many Americans eat supersized meals, with portions that are twice the size recommended for good health. That can contribute to weight gain and high cholesterol. Here’s an easy way to practice portion control for a meal: Use your hand. One serving of meat or fish is about what fits in the palm of your hand. One serving of fresh fruit is about the size of your fist. And a serving of cooked vegetables, rice, or pasta should fit in your cupped hand.

Serve Up the Heart-Healthy Food
Load your plate with fruits and vegetables — five to nine servings a day — to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol. Antioxidants in these foods may provide the benefit. Or it may be that when we eat more fruits and veggies, we eat less fatty foods. Either way, you’ll also help lower blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight. Foods enriched with plant sterols, such as some margarine spreads, yogurts, and other foods, can also help lower LDL cholesterol.

For Heart Health, Look to the Sea
A heart-healthy diet has fish on the menu twice a week. Why? Fish is low in saturated fat and high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help lower levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. They may also help lower cholesterol, slowing the growth of plaque in arteries. Go for fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines. Just don’t drop the fillets in the deep fryer — you’ll undo the health benefits.

Start Your Day With Whole Grains
A bowl of oatmeal or other whole-grain cereal has benefits that last all day. The fiber and complex carbohydrates in whole grains help you feel fuller for longer, so you’ll be less tempted to overeat at lunch. They also help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and can help you lose weight. Other examples of whole grains include wild rice, popcorn, brown rice, and barley.

Go Nuts for Heart Health
Need a snack? A handful of nuts is a tasty treat that helps in lowering cholesterol. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol while leaving HDL “good” cholesterol intact. Several studies show that people who eat about an ounce of nuts a day are less likely to get heart disease. Nuts are high in fat and calories, so eat only a handful. And make sure they’re not covered in sugar or chocolate.

Unsaturated Fats Protect the Heart
We all need a little fat in our diet — about 25% to 35% of our daily calories. But the type of fat matters. Unsaturated fats — like those found in canola, olive, and safflower oils — help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and may help raise HDL “good” cholesterol. Saturated fats — like those found in butter and palm oil — and trans fats raise LDL cholesterol. Even good fats have calories, so eat in moderation.

More Beans, Fewer Potatoes
You need carbohydrates for energy, but some do your body more good than others. Beans, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat, have more fiber and raise sugar levels less. These help lower cholesterol and keep you feeling full longer. Other carbs, like those found in white bread, white potatoes, white rice, and pastries, boost blood sugar levels more quickly, leading you to feel hungry sooner, and may make you more likely to overeat.

Move It!
Even 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week (or 20 minutes three times a week for vigorous exercise, such as jogging) can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. More exercise is even better. Being active also helps you reach and keep a healthy weight, cutting your chance of developing clogged arteries. You don’t have to exercise for 30 minutes straight. You can break it up into 10-minute sessions.

Walk It Off
If you’re not used to exercising or don’t want to go to a gym, take a walk. It’s easy, healthy, and all you need is a good pair of shoes. Aerobic exercise (“cardio”) such as brisk walking lowers risk of stroke and heart disease, helps you lose weight, and keeps bones strong. If you’re just starting out, try a 10-minute walk and gradually build up from there.

Work Out Without Going to the Gym
You can exercise anywhere. Gardening, dancing, or walking your dog counts. Even housework can qualify as exercise, if it gets your heart rate up.

Take Charge of Your Health
If you have high cholesterol, you and your doctor may be using a number of strategies to lower cholesterol levels. You may be working on your diet, losing weight, exercising more, and taking cholesterol drugs. There are other actions you can take, too, to make sure you stay on the right track.

What to Do When Eating Out
If you’re eating healthy food at home to keep cholesterol in check, keep it up when you eat out. Restaurant food can be loaded with saturated fat, calories, and sodium. Even healthy choices may come in supersize portions. Use these tips to stay on track:

  • Choose broiled, baked, steamed, and grilled foods — not fried.
  • Get sauces on the side.
  • Practice portion control by asking for half your meal to be boxed up before it’s brought out.

Check the Label
A close look at nutrition labels is key for a low-cholesterol, heart-healthy diet.

Check serving sizes. The nutrition info may look good, but does the package contain two servings instead of one?
If it says “whole grain,” read the ingredients. Whole wheat or whole grain should be the first one.
Note the saturated fat and cholesterol. Are they within your diet’s limits?

Don’t Stress Out
Chronic stress can raise blood pressure, adding to your risk of atherosclerosis, which happens when plaque from cholesterol builds up in arteries. And research shows that for some people, stress might directly raise cholesterol levels. Lower your stress levels with relaxation exercises, meditation, or biofeedback. Focus on your breathing, and take deep, refreshing breaths. It’s a simple stress buster you can do anywhere.

When Losing Means Winning
Losing weight is one of the best things you can do to help prevent heart disease. Extra pounds make you more likely to get high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. These all affect the lining of your arteries, making them more likely to collect plaque from cholesterol. Losing weight — especially belly fat — helps raise HDL “good” cholesterol and reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol.

Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
Managing your cholesterol is a lifelong process. See your doctor regularly to keep tabs on your health. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on diet, exercise, and medication. Working together, you and your doctor can lower your cholesterol levels and keep your heart going strong.

Source: WebMD; Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol