Healthy eating starts with learning new ways to eat.
For many years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have reported heart disease as the number one cause of death for both men and women. About 600,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. Although heart disease describes several problems, heart attack is the most common result of heart disease. A heart attack results from damage to the heart muscle or blocked/reduced blood flow. CDC estimates that about 525,000 people will have a heart attack for the first time in 2018. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack! (CDC, 2017)
Issues contributing to heart disease are unhealthy diets, inactivity, and obesity. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic stress, diabetes, smoking tobacco, and a family history of heart disease, also increases the likelihood of heart disease.
Lifestyle changes that reduce risk of heart disease include:
• Reduce waist size. If your waist is more than 35 inches (women) or 40 inches (men), you may be at risk and should
take measures to lose weight.
• Learn to read the nutrition label
• Eat healthy food in moderate portions. On a 9-inch plate you should have:
> ½ of your plate should have non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli etc.)
> ¼ plate with whole grains (brown rice, whole grain bread or cereals, etc.)
> ¼ plate with protein foods (lean meats, beans, lentils nuts, seeds, eggs etc.)
> On the side, have ½-cup fruit, and
• Avoid sugary and highly salted foods.
• Eliminate soda and drink water instead.
• Improve your immunity by eating more fermented foods (yogurt with live culture, kimchi etc.)
• Cook and eat healthy meals at home and avoid fried foods. Involve children or grandchildren to teach the next generation how to prepare meals.
• Be your own health advocate.
Know your numbers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and your family history. Schedule regular health checkups to stay abreast of your health status. Identify healthcare providers that accepts your medical plan, or provides support if you
• Be active at least 30 minutes a day. Find something you enjoy doing, like walking, dancing, etc.
• Reduce stress in your life by practicing mindfulness, gratitude, meditation, and/or prayer.
By Lydia Kaume, Ph.D., RDN. LD
Asst. Extension Professor, Regional Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County
Starting new habits and set realistic goals, such as:
• Walking for 15 minutes.
• Replacing fried foods with baked or grilled.
• Avoiding soda.
• Adding a new vegetable to a meal.
Never underestimate the power of making small changes. Your life depends on it! Consult with your doctor and seek out a nutritionist to help create a plan that’s best for you.
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