February 2008 Wellness Ezine

Heart Health
By Megan Forbes

    Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America and affects hundreds of Americans each year, but your chance of developing heart disease can drop dramatically by eating healthfully and practicing a healthy lifestyle.
    So what does a “healthy lifestyle” and “eating healthy” look like in terms of heart health? Exercising more than 30 minutes six to seven days a week is essential. Exercise not only increases your energy and fitness, but it strengthens the heart muscle, reduces cholesterol, reduces stress, and helps people reach an optimal weight. Exercise does not have to be full throttle; start off walking, then a brisk walk, and eventually you may find yourself biking, running, swimming, or hiking. Most importantly choose something you love. If you are more inclined to stay indoors in the winter, try a beginner yoga class or work with a trainer—anything that will get your heart rate up.
    Beyond exercise, make sure you manage stress levels, don’t smoke and control your waist size. Something that helps with this is nutrition. The National Weight Control Registry found that 89 percent of people who lost 30 or more pounds and kept it off for at least one year accomplished their goals through a combination of diet and exercise-only. Ten percent succeeded using diet alone, and only 1 percent used exercise alone.
    At times it may be confusing, but following simple steps to make eating right for heart health can be easy:

  • Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, legumes and other lean protein sources
  • Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol
    • Saturated fat is primarily found in animal products so choose low-fat dairy and lean cuts of animal meats (fish is an exception because it contains Omega-3 oils)
    • Trans fat is found in any product that lists partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient label; check labels on peanut butter, margarine, or packaged foods
  • If you drink alcohol do so in moderation and drink PLENTY of water throughout each day, especially in the warmer months
  • Choose and prepare foods with little salt and consume potassium-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, or whole grains) to hinder sodium’s effect on your blood pressure
  • Switch from packaged snack items to vegetables and fruits for snacking
    In regard to supplemental sources of nutrition, Omega-3 oils are essential. You may get your consumption from eating fish itself or choosing a quality supplement that contains a high amount of EPA and DHA (the two most beneficial Omega-3s). For vegetarian options, hemp seed and flax seed may be alternatives. There have been quite a few studies indicating that Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, B vitamins, Carnitine and Calcium may also help prevent heart disease. It may be a good idea to choose a quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement and speak with your health-care provider to make sure you are getting enough heart protection. Choosing food to get the majority of your nutrients is always the best way to go, but a supplement can act as insurance.
    Switching to a heart-healthy lifestyle will not only benefit your heart, but all facets of your being. Each positive change you make will build on itself and soon you will find yourself feeling better and having more energy and mental capacity. So, do it for your heart, do it for your fitness, and most of all for yourself and loved ones that care so much about your well being! Your health is one of the most valuable things you can attain, so invest wisely.

Meg Forbes is a Registered Dietitian focusing on wellness, gastrointestinal distress, autoimmune disease, heart disease, sports nutrition, and food allergies. An athlete herself, Meg has also had a long history of coping with Crohn’s Disease. Her philosophy is one that looks at the whole person, not just dietary intakes. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Meg please call MassageSpecialists.com at 303-938-0388 or email her personally at megforb@gmail.com.

Make an appointment with Megan and receive 50 percent off your initial consultation. Be sure to mention the February Ezine when you schedule your appointment.

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