Posts Tagged ‘heart disease’

Heart Health 101: Obesity and Heart Disease

It’s a well-known fact that being overweight increases your chance of being at risk of many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  But research shows that even a small amount of weight loss can lessen your risk of falling victim to these deadly diseases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research also shows that, unfortunately, eating just 100 more calories a day than you should, can cause your body weight to be in the obese category and not just the overweight category.

To determine whether you are overweight or obese, use a BMI Calculator.  A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; a BMI between 30 and 39.9 is considered obese.  If your BMI is greater than 25 and you are older than 30 years old, you should strongly consider losing weight to reduce your risk of heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

A Little Bit About Fats…

Those people looking to understand what dieticians are talking about when they compare good fats to bad fats will not find these terms on food labels.  Instead you will see words like polyunsaturated and trans fats.  Here is a brief explanation of those fats and how they affect your body.

fats

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are the fats that stay solid at room temperature, such as lard, coconut oil and cow butter. Saturated fats are what dieticians consider “bad fats” because they raise your bad cholesterol level, thereby raising your total cholesterol level. People whose diet consists of many foods high in saturated fats typically are at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats have a lower melting temperature than saturated fats, which means that they do not stay solid at room temperature.  These types of fats can be found in: peanut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocados. Monounsaturated fats are what dieticians consider the“good fats” that lower bad cholesterol without lowering your levels of good cholesterol.  In addition, monounsaturated fats help to prevent against cardiovascular disease.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats are fats that can stay liquid even at lower temperatures, such as corn oil and sunflower oil.  Polyunsaturated fats are also found in soybeans, fish, fish oil and in grain products.Dieticians consider polyunsaturated fats the “good fats” as they lower cholesterol and they help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering the amount of fat in the blood.

Trans Fats

 Trans fats are man-made fats that are created during the hydrogenation process.  These types of fats are unnatural and toxic to your body.  Trans fats are abundant in packaged and processed foods. Dieticians consider trans fats the “bad fats” as they can cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, low birth weight babies, and sterility.

Obesity and Your Heart Health Risk

In the News:  Heart Awareness Month

Obesity and Your Heart Health Risks

It’s a well-known fact that being overweight increases your chance of being at risk of a number of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  But research shows that even a small amount of weight loss can lessen your risk of falling victim to these deadly diseases.

Research also shows that, unfortunately, eating just 100 more calories a day than you should, can cause your body weight to be in the obese category and not just the overweight category.

To determine whether or not you are overweight or obese, use a BMI Calculator.  A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; a BMI between 30 and 39.9 is considered obese.

If your BMI is greater than 25 and you are older than 30 years old, you should strongly consider losing weight to reduce your risk of heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.

In recognition of American Heart Month here are some important statistics regarding heart health:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a coronary attack.
  • The average age for a first heart attack for men is 66 years.
  • Many cases of heart disease can be prevented. Learn more at cdc.gov.

There’s An App for That

there's an app for that
With the popularity of smart phones growing by the day, the health world has joined in on the hype by creating numerous apps that bring the keys to better health right to your phone.

Here are some of the best health apps available today.

Heart Disease Risk Calculator

If you are in need of a reality check and you are in possession of an iPhone, simply download the free Heart Disease Risk Calculator app to find out what your odds are of having a heart attack, stroke or heart failure within the next decade.  While the advice given within the app is not to be taken over the advice of a medical doctor, it will still help you to encourage healthy eating and living.

My Last Cigarette

If you made a New Year’s Resolution to quit smoking and nearly four months later you still haven’t quit, then perhaps you should download the My Last Cigarette app.  Only $1 for the iPhone, this app tells you how much money you are saving by not smoking and how much you have altered your life expectancy by quitting.  The app also provides motivational messages to keep you smoke-free, which most researchers believe help people to stay their course after quitting.

Instant Heart Rate

Using just your smart phone camera and the Instant Heart Rate free app for both iPhone and Android, doctors agree that this is one of the most accurate heart rate monitor apps.

Allergy Caddy

For those with food allergies, Allergy Caddy available for the iPhone for just $2 helps you to avoid certain foods at more than 30 different restaurant chains by consulting the public accessible data available through the app.

MelApp

Utilizing the extensive database at Johns Hopkins University coupled with pattern-recognition technology, MelApp, available for $2 on the iPhone, can access your melanoma risk by simply scanning your photos of lesions that are questionable.

ZocDoc

Available at no cost for the Android, Blackberry and iPhone, ZocDoc allows you to search for dentists and physicians in many major U.S. markets.  After reading the review and choosing a doctor, you can make an appointment without making any phone calls.

Medscape

This free app for all three major smart phones tracks any drug interactions and safety data for more than 8,000 drugs. Medscape also provides medical news and information on more than 4,000 diseases and conditions.

Dieting for Stress Management: Choosing Stress-Fighting Foods


STRESS. We all deal with it at some point in our lives. But having too much stress in your life can be very harmful to your health and can make you more vulnerable to everything from colds to high blood pressure and even heart disease.

Stress management is a valuable tool to learn when it comes to your overall wellness. While there are many ways to cope with stress, eating stress-fighting foods is one good way to start.

From boosting serotonin levels to lowering stress hormones, there are a number of foods that actually counteract the impact of stress on our lives.

The following foods should be part of your diet for stress management:

Complex Carbohydrates – All carbohydrates give a signal to the brain to produce that “feel good” chemical, serotonin. To keep a steady flow of serotonin, dieticians suggest complex carbs like whole grain cereals, breads and pastas and oatmeal.

Oranges
– Because they are a wealth of vitamin C, studies show that oranges are great stress-busting foods, as well as a great immune system strengthener. Experts suggest taking 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C before a stressful event.

Spinach – It’s the magnesium in spinach that helps to regulate cortisol levels that particularly get depleted when we are in stressful situations. Not enough magnesium can trigger headaches, adding to stressful situations. One cup of spinach is the recommended amount, as the magnesium goes a long way. Can’t do spinach? Try cooked soy beans or salmon instead, for the same effects.

Fatty Fish
– Omega-3 fatty acids are important to prevent surges in stress hormones, as well as protect against heart disease. Try fatty fish like salmon or tuna for your Omega-3’s.

Black Tea – Good for lowering levels of cortisol following stressful events, many experts swear by the healing powers of black tea. Black tea helps you to recover quickly following stresses and helps you to remain calm.

Pistachios – Chosen for their ability to soften the pre- and post-effects of stress, experts suggest eating a handful of pistachios every day to help lower blood pressure so it won’t spike when faced with stressful situations.

Avocados – Another great high blood pressure reducing food is avocados, due to their potassium content. Half of an avocado has more potassium than a medium-sized banana. Additionally, avocados, in guacamole form, are a great and nutritious treat when stress has you craving snack foods.

Almonds
– Chock full of vitamins, like vitamin E and a range of B vitamins, almonds are a great treat to eat that help with resiliency when dealing with stress.

Raw Vegetables
– In a purely mechanical way, crunching on raw vegetables can help to alleviate stress. By releasing your clenched jaw and possibly warding off headaches, chomping your carrots, celery and other veggies is beneficial on many levels

While these are but a few suggestions, they will all help to get you back on track towards a less stressful life.

Straight From the Headlines: Get Off the Couch and Stay out of the Doctor’s Office


A recent study conducted in Wisconsin and reported on Maxnewshealth.com, states that people who are couch potatoes are twice as likely to catch a cold and a third likelier to suffer bad or extreme symptoms compared to those who are healthy and fit.

According to the study, people who were considered fit or who exercised at least five days a week had between 4.4 and 4.9 “cold days” on average. Those who were moderately fit or who exercised one to four days per week had between 4.9 and 5.5 “cold days” on average. Those who were not fit and exercised one day a week or not at all had between 8.2 and 8.6 “cold days” on average.

Getting exercise unleashes a rise in immune defenses, helping to prepare our bodies to fight viruses and colds. Therefore, those who were fit or moderately fit had increased immune systems resulting in less “cold days” on average compared to the couch potato.

Furthermore, according to Getbetterhealth.com, about 60 percent of adults in the U.S. are not getting the exercise they need resulting in side effects even more sobering than the common cold.

If your idea of exercise is working out your TV remote reflexes then take a look at these statistics:

• Physical inactivity increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent.

• Sedentary people have a 35 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure than do physically active people.

• Inactivity is one of the four major risk factors for heart disease, on par with smoking, unhealthy cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

If you’re still undecided, Getbetterhealth.com outlines a few heart-health benefits of getting off the couch and getting your heart beating. Here are a few:

• For each hour you spend walking, you can gain two hours of life expectancy.

• More than half of the participants in a study who jogged two miles a day were able to stop taking blood pressure medication.

• Taking a brisk one-hour walk, five days a week can cut your risk for stroke in half.

• People with an active lifestyle have a 45 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than sedentary people.

To avoid becoming a full-blown couch potato and having to endure the unhealthy risks associated with lack of exercise it is advised that people exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you find it difficult to find 30 minutes a day to get your heart pumping try breaking it up into two or three 10-15 minute sessions.

Savory Salmon: An Array of Health Benefits but Beware of Mercury

salmon
One of the healthiest foods that you can consume is fish, more specifically, salmon. Besides being an excellent source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, salmon is also full of high-quality proteins and low in saturated fat.

Salmon has nearly a third of the saturated fat of lean ground beef and 50 percent less saturated fat than chicken, making it one of the healthiest items that you could eat. Salmon is also low in calories. One serving contains approximately 183 calories, making it one of the lowest in calories among other fish. In addition, eating foods like salmon, which contain very little trans-fatty acids, can help to reduce the risk of many diseases, like type II diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Because salmon is chock full of protein, it contains sufficient amounts of every essential amino acid required by our bodies for growth and the upkeep of muscle tissue. These proteins also help our bodies to maintain a healthy metabolism, playing a key role in weight loss. In addition, eating salmon is one of the best ways to insure that we’re getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids.

According to MSNBC.com, Omega-3’s are a form of polyunsaturated fat that the body derives from food. Omega-3’s (and Omega-6’s) are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they are essential for good health. They are essential to the development of healthy brains and other metabolically active tissues. Research shows that these fats do much more than regulate our brains: They can also lower risk of heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. They even help fight wrinkles and may block fat-cell formation. However, the body cannot make these fatty acids on its own so it’s important that Omega-3’s be obtained from food.

However, once you increase the amount of fish that you eat in order to reap the benefits, it’s also important to maintain healthy levels of consumption in order to avoid mercury exposure. Some types of fish are loaded with mercury and other contaminants, like PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides.

Today Show Health Correspondent, Joy Bauer on MSNBC.com says that the main reason mercury is bad for your health is that it negatively affects the brain and nervous system. Mercury poisoning can also adversely affect vision, kidney function, fertility, blood pressure regulation and heart disease.

High mercury fish to avoid: swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel (a little mackerel is fine). Tuna’s not great. If you buy canned tuna, you’re better off with the chunk light kind versus albacore or white. The worst for “dioxins” is farm-raised Atlantic salmon, which is also high in PCBs and pesticides.

Some of the very, very safest and best fish to eat are anchovies, herring, Atlantic mackerel, wild salmon, sardines, crab, halibut, scallops, shrimp, and tilapia.

Dinner’s Ready! Heart Disease Nutrition

family eating dinner

America is reeling from a number of recent high profile deaths all linked to a common culprit- heart disease. Music icon, Michael Jackson, died at the age of 50 after reportedly suffering from cardiac arrest. TV pitchman, Billy Mays, likely died of a heart attack in his sleep. And last year renowned journalist, Tim Russert, collapsed at NBC’s Washington News Bureau from a heart attack.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. It’s a heavy-handed predator that has more than likely affected you or somebody that you know. But the silver lining on this otherwise bleak overview of heart disease is that there are measures that can be taken to prevent this disease. One of the most important things you can do to combat heart disease is to learn about heart disease nutrition and start eating a heart healthy diet. It’s been proven that changing your diet can help stop or even reverse heart disease. So even if you’re known to consume hotdogs and ice cream like they’re going out of style, adapting your nutritional intake now can aid in preventing disease in the future.

By implementing a heart-happy nutrition strategy you can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol (this is the “bad” cholesterol), lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and reduce overall body weight. If you already have heart disease you can reduce your chance of developing atherosclerosis (blocked arteries that cause heart disease) by simply paying closer attention to what you’re feeding your body. If you’ve been effectively clogging your arteries for a while no, you can also slow the rate at which it progresses.

But rather than focusing on what we can’t eat lets discuss what you can eat. In fact, according to WebMD heart disease research has shown that adding heart-healthy foods is just as important on cutting back on others. So what exactly can you eat?

  • Eat more fish or other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and high fiber foods
  • When eating fat, consume fats high in monounsaturated fats like olive and peanut oil

Below are a few items you may want to eliminate from your diet:

  • Limit total fat grams and eat only a bare minimum of saturated and trans-fats like butter, margarine, sweets and fried foods.
  • Limit salt-sodium
  • Eat a variety and not too many protein-rich foods. Commonly eaten protein foods (meat, dairy products) are among the main culprits in increasing heart disease risk. Reduce this risk by balancing animal, fish, and vegetable sources of protein.
  • Limit cholesterol consumption. Get energy by eating complex carbohydrates (whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, whole-grain breads) and limit simple carbohydrates (regular soft drinks, sugar, sweets).
  • Stay at a healthy weight by balancing the calories you eat with your physical activity.

You may also want to try some of the best foods for you that you’re probably not eating posted by MSNBC. These foods include beets, cabbage, guava, swiss chard, cinnamon, purlane, pomegranate juice, goji berries, dried plums, pumpkin seeds

So next time you’re mulling over your dinner menu, keep these guidelines in mind. You could be saving a life.