Eat Right for a Healthy Heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Fortunately, though, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family against heart disease.
For example, following an eating plan that balances calorie intake with your level of physical activity and is low in saturated and total fat, and cholesterol, and rich in fruits and vegetables, lowfat dairy foods, and whole grains can help protect you against high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and overweight--factors that, along with physical inactivity and smoking, increase the risk of heart disease. This eating plan may also help prevent cancer and other health problems.
The earlier you take action, the better. Research shows that heart disease begins early in life and that, once learned, bad habits are hard to break. So you and your family should adopt a heart healthy eating plan now.
Here's some advice about heart-healthy eating from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA):
American children are gaining weight. They are eating too much saturated fat from high-calorie fast- and snack foods and not getting enough physical activity. Try cutting back on high-fat foods for your children by offering more fruits as snacks. Vegetables can be chopped into small pieces and added to favorite recipes without kids noticing. Combine rice with vegetables. Whole wheat or bran breads add fiber to sandwiches. For desserts, offer fig bars, ginger snaps, graham crackers, or frozen fatfree dairy desserts.
Children often eat many meals away from home, making it harder to maintain good eating habits. To improve fast food meals, order a small plain hamburger--it has less fat than fried or battered items--and hold the cheese or special sauce. Or, try lean roast beef and grilled or broiled chicken sandwiches or pita pockets with small pieces of meat and vegetables.
Seniors need to be diet smart too. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for older people, since we begin to lose weight as we age. Some weight may be lost from muscle, so be sure that your diet is rich in protein and carbohydrates while watching out for too many saturated fats.
Some medications, such as diuretics, may flush nutrients from the body, so be careful to get enough potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is especially important for blood pressure and is abundant in bananas. Calcium requirements increase with age. Try to get 1,000-1,500 mg/day. Good sources are leafy green vegetables and dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese--but choose low or nonfat types. If milk causes digestive discomfort, try yogurt or a lactose-free dairy product.
Adults Can Reduce the Risk:
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