Some messages for heart health are loud and clear, for example “Do not smoke and get plenty of exercise.” Other recommendations have been misinterpreted or only contain half-truths. See if you have your finger on the pulse of the complete picture for heart health.
1). If you skip the saltshaker when preparing and tasting food, you don’t need to worry about sodium in your diet contributing to high blood pressure.
Guess again. Eighty percent of the sodium Americans take in comes from processed foods, fast food, and restaurant dining, not from the saltshaker on the table.
Think about cooking at home more with fresh foods. It is worth your time!
2). Drink up. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends women have 1 glass of red wine daily for heart health.
Oops, that really isn’t the message! The AHA does not recommend that you drink. If you do indulge, the guidelines restrict women to 5 ounces of wine and men to 10 ounces daily. Here’s the catch. Research shows that today bars and restaurants serve 50% larger sizes than the “standard” used for the AHA guidelines. Also, a glass of wine typically packs more alcohol than ever—–14% instead of the 12% from years ago. Guess that one glass of wine is really two!
3). What’s the best diet for heart health? Good research supports The Mediterranean diet. It emphasizes an active lifestyle and plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. It also promotes healthy items such as olive oil, fish, and seafood. Your heart will love it.
Here’s an added message for Americans. The Mediterranean Diet is based on traditional foods (and drinks) of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, but it does not suggest portion sizes. Europeans do not supersize their potions the way we do. Go easy on the higher calorie servings of oil, starches, nuts, grains and wine!
4). Thank goodness you hit the gym before work in the morning. Now that the workout is out of the way you can sit all day at work and then hit the coach after hours.
It’s great to have a regular exercise session but how active are you throughout the day? If you sit all day, you could be in trouble. People who sit for hours have less desirable levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and a bigger waist size.
Get up and move during the day with short walks. Keep dumb bells near your desk for curls and triceps extensions and do some of your sitting on a balance ball. You’ll look and feel better!
See how to incorporate fat loss into your daily routine in just 4 Minutes a Day here!
5). There’s no need to worry about eating healthy if you take supplements?
Your diet does matter. Time and time again research has shown that supplements do not take the place of food. Case in point is the latest findings on fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids). These healthy fats have been used to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and prevent heart rhythm abnormalities. Recent studies do not support the use of fish oil to significantly reduce all-cause mortality, heart attack, or stroke. The same is true for many other vitamins and mineral supplements.
Food First. There is a synergy between the vitamins, minerals, chemicals, fiber etc. in food. Pills do not offer all these benefits ….at least not yet.
Carol S. Lapin, MS, RD is the owner of CSL Nutritional Services in Houston, TX where she specializes in cardiovascular and wellness nutrition and is a consultant for the food and restaurant industry.
Check out Carol’s blog with Roberta Anding (Sports Dietitian for the Texans and Astros) and Sharon Smalling (cardiovascular nutrition expert in the Houston Medical Center).