Combine These Healthy Lifestyle "Ingredients" to Optimize Your Heart Health
As part of American Heart Month, here's a reminder about how the combination of eating better, exercising, reducing stress and managing risks can lead to a healthier heart – along with some Riverside resources that can help you along the way.
By Holly Hicks, Registered Dietitian
1. Know the numbers that count: Find out your risk for heart disease by talking with your doctor about your risk factors including cholesterol and other blood lipid numbers. If your numbers are elevated, discuss trying lifestyle changes before starting medication.
2. Paint a rainbow on your plate: Fill 2/3 of your plate with colorful plant foods (vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, fruit) and 1/3 or less with animal protein sources (lean meat, poultry, cheese, fish, eggs).
3. Consume fiber rich foods: Aim for 21-38 grams of fiber daily. Rich sources of soluble fiber, the kind that lowers cholesterol levels, include oatmeal, barley, beans, peas and most fruits and vegetables, including the skins.
4. Avoid foods containing hydrogenated (trans) fats: Some of the worst offenders are stick margarine, prepackaged cookies and desserts, crackers and some fast food French fries. These types of fats are as (or even more) harmful as natural saturated fats.
5. Eat heart healthy omega-3 rich fish: This includes salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna and sardines a couple of times a week. Besides fish, other sources of omega-3s are walnuts and flaxseed.
6. Move your body: Exercise increases circulating levels of HDL (good) cholesterol which strengthens your heart and reduces your risk for heart disease. Using a pedometer, aim for at least 10,000 steps/day (that's about 5 miles but it includes a lot of other movement besides walking). And if you want a little indoor comfort while you walk, Riverside has developed a measured course within the Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News.
7. Here's a nutty idea: Eat one ounce of nuts five or more times a week. Three large epidemiologic studies have shown that nut consumption reduces the risk for heart disease. For example, the Adventist Health Study, which included 34,198 people, showed that those who ate nuts five or more times a week had a 51% reduction for a heart attack compared with those who ate nuts less than once a week.
8. Don't smoke: We can help with Riverside's Smokeless program, held on site at the Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center. Over 90% of our program participants are smoke free at program completion.
9. Avoid or limit alcohol consumption: Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks/day for men. 1 drink = 12 oz. beer, 5 oz. glass of wine or 1½ oz liquor.
10. Get to a healthy weight: We can help at the Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center with DIETCISE, our nationally licensed weight loss program. Come join us for our next Open House on Tuesday, March 13th, at 10 am or 6 pm.
For further information on all of our Wellness and Fitness Center services, programs and activities, contact Holly Hicks at (757) 875-7533.
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