Meadville Tribune

Breaking News

Our Health

February 15, 2012

Heart health: Take risk factors into your own hands

MEADVILLE — February is American Heart Month, a time to pause and consider the prevalence of heart disease and the lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent it or limit its impact on your health. Heart disease accounts for about 2,200 deaths per day in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Just as the book I co-authored, “Hypertension Cookbook For Dummies,” was being published, the DASH diet received applause early this year when U.S. News and World Report ranked it as the number one most useful dietary strategy for improved health, appropriate for anyone with or without heart disease.

When considering your heart health, learning about the risk factors is a good place to start (see sidebar). There are several risk factors that are in your hands that you can impact with changes in diet or lifestyle. For instance you can:

- Make changes in your eating and lifestyle to prevent or control diabetes and hypertension.

- Enroll in a smoking cessation program.

- Commit to a regular exercise schedule, and think about how you can add more activity to your regular day (taking stairs, walking more, doing more household chores, spending fewer hours sitting).

The key dietary components to track in order to help control blood pressure and maintain heart health are: fat, fiber and antioxidants. You will want to include healthy fats in your diet that are low in saturated fat (olive oil, nuts, fatty fish) and reduce the saturated fat in your diet (the skin on chicken wings; high-fat cuts of beef such as prime rib, ribeye or T-bone steaks; bologna, sausages, fried food), but you can include lean cuts of meats, such as loin cuts and skinless poultry.

If you do splurge on a high-cut fat, portion control is important. Your total daily meat intake should not surpass eight ounces. As important, you’ll want to add the good stuff to your diet: fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy foods (which all provide antioxidants).

Some foods to include for your heart health:

- Salmon. Fatty fish contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t think you’re a fish-lover, do pick up a cookbook or find a new recipe. Adding flavors you enjoy to fish may encourage you to eat it, and you may just find you like it. Fatty fish has a “meatier” texture than most white fish does, and any fish is very quick and simple to prepare in less than 30 minutes.

- Olive oil. You can mix one tablespoon of olive oil with one tablespoon of another vegetable oil (like soybean) to saute vegetables or brown meats. You can also use olive oil for salads and vinaigrettes.

- High-fiber foods (unpackaged). Fruits and vegetables naturally provide fiber to the diet. Limit fruit juices to no more than 6 ounces per day, and add two to three servings of fruit to your day. Any whole fruit is a good choice; berries have a particularly high antioxidant content. You want to aim for up to four to five servings of veggies, too. One serving is a half-cup, so including a cooked vegetable and a tossed salad at dinner, for instance, will easily provide you with three servings. You can also get creative with a blender and blend steamed vegetables into purees to use in soups or sauces, or even to add to baked goods.

- High-fiber foods (packaged). Whole grains are also important, but you need to read labels carefully when it comes to packaged food. Sometimes fiber is added artificially, and the more processed the food, the less benefit (for instance, oatmeal is high in fiber, but an “oatmeal bar” may not have a lot of oats in it). Read labels for total fiber, but also take a peek at ingredient lists to ensure that the whole grains top the list. While a “high-fiber breakfast bar” may be great when you’re in a rush, check the label for sugar (aim for less than 10 grams) and saturated fat (aim for less than 2 grams).

- Low-fat dairy. The Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension (DASH) research trials showed that including three servings of low-fat dairy in the diet promoted lower blood pressure compared to those not including dairy (with all other diet components controlled). You can include dairy in many ways beyond just drinking a glass of milk. Use low-fat milk to make cream sauces, enjoy a mid-morning snack of Greek yogurt (creamy, and also higher in protein than regular yogurt), make smoothies in your blender using yogurt and frozen berries, or have 1 to 2 ounces of low-fat cheese with apple slices as your mid-afternoon snack. After your daily workout, 8 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk is a great post-workout recovery drink.

Choose goals based on the above lifestyle and diet tips. Make one change, one week at a time, and your diet and lifestyle changes can add up to a healthier heart.

Text Only
Our Health
  • Don't let a desk job negatively impact your health

    If you’re female, you might want to consider a more physically active career to avoid a variety of cancers.

    July 21, 2014

  • Study focuses on cancer in those who apply pesticides

    This year marks the end of the Agricultural Health Study, a 20-year study of the effects of pesticides on farm workers and their families. Although the study focused on Iowa and North Carolina, there are still some elements that are important for Pennsylvania farmers as well as anyone who handles chemical compounds.

    June 30, 2014

  • Learn to swim and keep drowning at bay

    When you and your family hit the pool or the beach this summer, you need to be aware of a phenomenon known as secondary drowning, or dry drowning.

    June 16, 2014

  • ‘Planting’ the seeds of a better diet this summer

    Summertime is a great time to make improvements to your diet and lifestyle. Despite the conflicting “advice” you may get about diet when reading the popular press (not to mention all of the “food rules”), adding more plants to your diet is always a good idea.

    June 9, 2014

  • Is the idea of drinkable sunscreen worth swallowing?

    Tired of greasy, sticky hands after applying sunscreen? Even the spray-on sunscreens leave you inhaling fumes that you shouldn’t breathe. Well, enter a new era of skincare products: drinkable sunscreen.

    June 3, 2014

  • Survivor stories: Beating cancer with faith and family love

    I recently talked with Rebecca Arbuckle of Meadville to discuss her journey with breast cancer and how she was able to beat it with faith, strength and the love of her family. Although our conversation was upbeat and filled with confidence, there were times that emotion broke through, as it should, for having faced such a battle and won. I am in awe of the people I have had the chance to interview and am honored to share their stories.

    May 27, 2014

  • Uncovering the simple fix to the 'super bug'

    The World Health Organization has identified a serious threat to human health around the globe. Known as a “superbug,” this antimicrobial resistant bacterial infection has been coined “AMR” (Antimicrobial Resistance).

    May 19, 2014

  • Get educated about high blood pressure and eating better

    May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, and one in three Americans have it. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading risk factor for stroke. Hypertension is often referred to as the “silent killer” since you may feel no apparent symptoms. Yet, high blood pressure will cause damage to the blood vessels, brain and heart over time.

    May 13, 2014

  • Researchers: colon cleansing health benefits a myth

    Researchers have found that while colon cleansing has been around since ancient times, the health benefits are basically a myth.

    May 5, 2014

  • Prescription for Medical Nutrition Therapy

    Nutrition is a vital part of being well, and an even more important part to getting well (or healing). It’s a critical part of prevention, yet if I surveyed physicians or lay people, and asked them “Does diet therapy work?” chances are at least 70 percent of them would say “No.”

    April 21, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide