Back to Top Skip to main content

Focus on heart-healthy diet is perfect fit for February

Changing your eating habits doesn't have to be drastic to be effective. When registered dietitians and other health professional talk about a "heart-healthy" diet, it generally means to increase the amount of fiber in one's diet, reduce saturated fats and reduce salt. (DoD photo) Changing your eating habits doesn't have to be drastic to be effective. When registered dietitians and other health professional talk about a "heart-healthy" diet, it generally means to increase the amount of fiber in one's diet, reduce saturated fats and reduce salt. (DoD photo)

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Nutrition

FORT GORDON, Ga. — February is the month of love, so they say. For many, it's time to turn that love inward, toward your heart. Not the spiritual, emotional heart, but the blood-pumping, life-giving one.

With the typical American diet and lifestyle, many people put themselves at risk for developing various heart diseases. Diets that are low in vegetables and fruits, and high in processed grains, added sugars, saturated fats and sodium are some risk factors for developing heart diseases such as unhealthy levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidemia), high blood pressure (hypertension) and fatty deposits in the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart (coronary artery disease).

The Centers for Disease and Control reports that coronary artery disease is the most common of all heart diseases. Coronary artery disease can reduce or stop blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack, or if developed over a long period of time, leading to heart failure.

The good news is that you can take action to reduce your risk of developing CAD and other heart diseases. Lifestyle changes, including increased physical activity and changing your eating habits, can go a long way in reducing your risk.

The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. Choosing an activity that gets your heart pumping is the goal. Walking, active yoga and general yard work are examples of moderate-intensity activity. Alternatively, 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity supports substantial health benefits, too. Running, jumping rope, hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack are some examples of vigorous-intensity activity.

Changing your eating habits doesn't have to be drastic to be effective. When registered dietitians and other health professional talk about a "heart-healthy" diet, it generally means to increase the amount of fiber in one's diet, reduce saturated fats and reduce salt. Each of these tasks can have a direct impact on your heart health.

For example, fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels. The type of fiber your body needs to do this is called soluble fiber. Think of this non-calorie nutrient as a magnet for cholesterol. Foods high in this type of fiber include whole grains (like oats), beans, whole fruits and nuts. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men eat 30-35 grams of fiber per day and women should eat 20-25 grams of fiber per day. Unfortunately, most Americans fall short of this goal, eating on average about 15 grams of fiber daily.

Reducing saturated fats in one's diet can also help the heart. Saturated fats are typically found in tropical oils (coconut) and animal products (dairy and meats). Heart-healthy fats are unsaturated fats found in foods such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish. To remember which ones are healthier just think of this: Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (and in your heart) and unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Keep in mind though that all fats are very high in calories and a little goes a long way.

Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy and lean cuts of meats to reduce saturated fats from those sources. And please don't swap your heart healthy olive oil for coconut oil. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat than butter. Keep the coconut oil to a minimum, or just use it on your skin and hair for a heart-healthy alternative.

When it comes to salt and heart health, less is definitely more. Most Americans eat around 4,000 mg of salt (or sodium) daily. Health experts recommend reducing this to 1,500-2,500 mg daily for health benefits, such as lower blood pressure. Foods that are typically high in salt are those that are prepackaged and highly processed.

Think of frozen meals, convenience foods, bagged snack foods such a chips and cookies, even condiments. Intentionally choosing foods with a low-sodium label, or preparing foods at home can help reduce excessive amounts of sodium in your diet. A food with "low-sodium" on the packaging indicates that the food will have 140mg or less of sodium per serving.

Easy-to-find, low-sodium foods include breads, canned beans and soy sauce. If you are cooking at home you can use a variety of spices and herbs to create flavorful dishes without added salt.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

Taking care of your heart with TRICARE benefits

Article
2/19/2019
February is nationally recognized as American Heart Month, a time for the Department of Defense community to show its love for healthy living.

Getting preventive screenings now could save your life tomorrow

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Preventive Health

Sticks and stones can break bones – and so can osteoporosis

Article
10/11/2018
Master Sgt. Kimberly Kaminski, 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, flips a 445-pound tire during a workout at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. Resistance training is just one of many steps to take to fight osteoporosis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ross A. Whitley)

Steps to take today to build a future of healthy bones

Recommended Content:

Nutrition | Physical Activity | Women's Health

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016

Infographic
6/19/2017
Did you know  … ? In 2016, essential hypertension accounted for 52,586 encounters for health care among 29,612 active component service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. Of all cardiovascular diseases, essential hypertension is by far the most common specific condition diagnosed among active duty service members. Untreated hypertension increases the risks of subsequent ischemic heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), and kidney failure. CHART: Healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016 Major condition: •	For all other cardiovascular the number of medical encounters was 70,781, Rank 29, number of individuals affected was 35,794 with a rank of 30. The number of bed days was 4,285 with a rank of 21. •	For essential hypertension the number of medical encounters was 52,586, rank 35, number of individuals affected was 29,612 with a rank of 35. The number of bed days was 151 with a rank of 86. •	For cerebrovascular disease the number of medical encounters was 7,772, rank 79, number of individuals affected was 1,708, with a rank of 96. The number of bed days was 2,107 with a rank of 32. •	For ischemic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 6,629, rank 83, number of individuals affected 2,399 with a rank of 87. The number of bed days was 1,140 with a rank of 42. •	For inflammatory the number of medical encounters was 2,221, rank 106, number of individuals affected 1,302 with a rank of 97. The number of bed days was 297 with a rank of 72. •	For rheumatic heart disease the number of medical encounters was 319, rank 125, number of individuals affected 261, with a rank of 121. The number of bed days was 2 with a rank of 133. Learn more about healthcare burdens attributable to various diseases and injuries by visiting Health.mil/MSMRArchives. #LoveYourHeart Infogaphic graphic features transparent graphic of a man’s heart illuminated within his chest.

This infographic documents healthcare burdens attributable to cardiovascular diseases among active component, U.S. Armed Forces in 2016.

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Men's Health | Heart Health

Vitamin D B12 Deficiency

Photo
9/19/2016
Adequate intake of B vitamins is important to ensure optimum energy production and the building of muscle tissue.

Adequate intake of B vitamins is important to ensure optimum energy production and the building of muscle tissue.

Recommended Content:

Nutrition | Physical Activity

Heart Disease and Its Effects on Service Members

Infographic
6/8/2016
infographic about heart disease and its effect on service members

Cardiovascular disease comprises disorders of the heart and circulatory system including coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. This infographic provides data on the risk factors for cardiovascular disease among military members base on diagnostic codes in the electronic health records of service members during a 10-year surveillance period.

Recommended Content:

Men's Health | Heart Health

Stimulants - Are you up to speed?

Infographic
5/19/2016
Operation Supplement Safety infographic about stimulants

Get up to speed and check out the new OPSS infographic with information on what you need to know about these dietary supplement ingredients

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Consortium for Health and Military Performance | Nutrition

The ABC's of Heart Health

Infographic
2/22/2016
ABC's of Heart Health Infographic

Bring awareness to the risks of heart disease and ways to stay heart healthy.

Recommended Content:

Heart Health

Take Charge of Your Heart Health

Infographic
2/16/2016
Infographic for Heart Health Month about Regular Checkups

Take Charge of Your Heart Health with Regular Checkups

Recommended Content:

Heart Health

Keep Your Heart Healthy This Valentine's Day

Infographic
2/11/2016
Keep Your Heart Healthy this Valentine's Day

4 ways to keep your heart healthy this Valentine's Day

Recommended Content:

Heart Health

Be Heart Smart

Infographic
2/1/2016
Be Heart Smart Infographic

Be More Active, Avoid Tobacco, Choose Better Nutrition

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Preventive Health

Eating Smart on the Run

Infographic
1/25/2016
infographic for eating smart when eating out

Tips for making healthy choices when eating out.

Recommended Content:

Operation Live Well | Nutrition

Practice Healthy Living Habits

Infographic
1/19/2016
Infographic listing 5 key healthy habits for the new year

A list of healthy living habits you can take on in 2016.

Recommended Content:

Operation Live Well | Nutrition | Physical Activity | Tobacco-Free Living

Decision Brief Obesity

Presentation
11/18/2013

Decision briefing to the Defense Health Board on Obesity presented on November 18, 2013

Recommended Content:

Nutrition | Operation Live Well

Dietary Supplement Use in the Military

Presentation
8/19/2013

Update on Dual Loyalties of Medical Providers presented to the Defense Health Board

Recommended Content:

Nutrition

Obesity Report Decision Brief

Presentation
8/19/2013

Obesity Report Decision Brief presented to the Defense Health Board

Recommended Content:

Nutrition
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 3

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.