February is American Heart Month. It’s the time of year when we get reminders like this one from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: heart disease remains the No. 1 killer in America.
Each year, approximately 715,000 Americans are stricken by a heart attack. Worse yet, about 600,000 people will die from heart disease this year – that averages out to one of every four deaths.
Heart disease doesn’t discriminate. It’s the leading cause of death for men and women.
The risk for developing heart disease is linked to a number of factors. Some we control; some are out of our control.
For example, we can’t change our genes and our inherited risk. But we can control much of our environmental risk.
If you smoke… STOP! You’ll lower your risk for heart attack almost immediately – the same for many other diseases, including lung, mouth and other cancers.
Type 2 diabetes, which doubles the risk for heart attack and stroke, is partially genetic. But there’s no denying that being overweight or obese is often the trigger that shoots the deadly bullet.
Staying at your healthy weight and being active can reduce or even eliminate your risk for diabetes.
We can eat healthfully… or we can choose not to!
Most of us have plenty of choices about what we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat it. Be honest. Do you take it for granted? Many of us do. But having these choices is one of the best things in life.
Changing your diet can lower your risk by controlling cholesterol and weight.
A Heart-Healthy Diet: Myths and Facts
Science is ever changing. I recently wrote an article that details what we thought was heart healthy in the 1940s turns out to be unhealthy for us now. It turns out that converting liquid oil to solid fat by a process called “hydrogenation” produces products (including stick margarine and shortening) that contain trans fats. Consuming them increases your risk for coronary plaque build-up.
At eDiets, we strive to make menus that reflect the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010). Our three major goals:
Sodium and Heart Health
Excessive intake of sodium is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. This is especially true for at-risk populations that include the elderly, people with diabetes, and the American minorities that face an even higher risk.
The average American consumes more than 3,400mg of sodium daily. The majority of our sodium comes from processed, packaged and restaurant foods.
All of our eDiets meal plans average about 2,300 mg or less daily. The more fresh foods you eat, the less you have to worry about excessive sodium.
Diets high in fiber help lower risk for high cholesterol.
Here are tips for lowering your cholesterol through the foods you eat.
The CDC recommends that for better health you:
Have a heart and have a happy, healthy February!
Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who, as chief nutritionist for eDiets, promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.