What you should know about heart disease

Pat Baird, MA, RDN, President CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Though heart disease tops the list of causes, the Centers for Disease Control says the number of deaths are declining. In addition, the American Heart Association says a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons in the fight against heart disease.

According to Registered Dietitian Pat Baird, when it comes to heart disease, CDC says “early action is key.”  Evidence shows that heart disease is both preventable and manageable. Here’s some important information for people to keep in mind.

Know Your Risk:

  • Start a Personal Health File: iHealth, Excel, notebook
  • Get tested and know your numbers: height, weight, BP, cholesterol (total/good/bad)
  • Family history (genetics play a role)
  • Lifestyle: diet, activity, stress, smoking etc.

Focus on Heart-Healthy Foods:

  • Benefit from berries as more studies show they reduce heart disease
  • Choose color: pigments contain special antioxidants that protect the heart and health
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential – literally – seafood, soy, walnuts and enriched eggs; supplements likely needed
  • Fiber – especially soluble – beans, lentils, oats actually bind cholesterol in the body

Good Fat Tips:

  • The type of fat actually more important than the amount
  • Look for lean: fewer white (fatty streaks) in beef an pork
  • Critique oils: how much and why; the best to use
  • Nuts and seeds are special: they provide protein and fiber and “good” fat

Make it a Habit:

  • Kick Butts: smoking is the number one habit to quit because…(reasons given)
  • Sleep 7-9 hrs every night: sleep deprivations contributes to heart disease, obesity and chronic disease
  • Lower stress: meditate; read; dance, walk because stress increases inflammation that leads to heart disease
  • Cook more! Home-cooked meals give more control over ingredients, prep style and portions

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