As we kiss Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month goodbye, there are still a few days left in February to take heart once more. And with heart disease topping the list as the number one killer of men and women in America, it should continue as a priority topic of health conversations.
In today’s fast-paced, easy-button, microwaveable world, the truth is there is no quick fix for heart disease. Not really. It’s a complex disease, with a myriad of symptoms and stages requiring careful diagnosis and advanced care by cardiac specialists. And that is … if it’s caught in time.
Preventative care is vital, starting with lifestyle. Medicines are available to help control blood pressure and cholesterol when we can’t lower them on our own. Actually, one of the best “prescriptions” for a healthy heart is taking the time to choose good nutrition.
It’s almost overwhelming, isn’t it, all the references to “heart healthy” in our marketplace today? You see it on food packaging, TV commercials, in cookbooks or online recipes … and it can make you wonder:
What determines when a food product can label itself, “heart healthy”?
A food item promoting itself as “heart healthy” should be able to back up its claim with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Mark on packaging. This certifies the product meets specific nutritional levels for an FDA-approved single serving size.
What are some good basics to know about “heart healthy” nutrition?
As much as possible choose fresh fruits and vegetables over packaged. Prepare your food instead of microwaving a frozen meal. (Processed, frozen meals, even low-calorie selections, are loaded with unhealthy sodium.) Keep saturated fat intake low (11-17 grams/day max.) and avoid “trans fats” as much as you can. But strive to add heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, like those in nuts and cold water fish to your diet a few times a week or more. For the “skinny” on heart-healthy fats, check out this video with a Sarasota Memorial registered dietitian.
No need to resort to bunny food or a diet of nuts and grains to be heart healthy. It’s just a simple matter of choices. Choose fresh over frozen as much as you can. Take time to read the labels when you can. Find some heart-healthy foods that taste good and add them to your menu. Show your heart some love – and it will love you back.
To arrange an appointment with a registered dietitian, please contact our office at 941.917.7468 or you can check out what we offer here.