Heart disease is the number one killer in America, but the good news is there is much we can do to prevent it. Dietician and author Elizabeth Somer has simple tips to help you lower your risk for heart disease.
How to lower heart disease risk with lifestyle changes
• 1 out of 2 Americans will die from heart disease. Heart disease is a “disease of civilization”, found in cultures such as the United States. In other cultures, where people live a more vigorous lifestyle and eat a more natural, hunter and gatherer diet, heart disease is virtually non-existent.
• Although some people are more prone to developing heart disease, risk factors have a lot more to do with lifestyle than genetics.
• Risk factors are showing up in children as young as nine years old. This is due to the pediatric obesity epidemic. The medical community is seeing elevated cholesterol levels and elevated blood sugar levels in children that predispose them to Type II Diabetes, which is a huge risk factor for heart disease. It is essential to establish a heart-healthy lifestyle for your children from birth.
• The good news is that there are simple diet and exercise changes that can help lower the risk for heart disease!
• Load your diet with fruits and vegetables, soy and whole grains. Make sure the red meat you eat is extra lean and limit your intake to two servings per week.
• Aerobic activity such as brisk walking is very important in the effort to reduce your risk for heart disease. You want to get your heart rate up, break a sweat and burn fat.
• To determine your risk of heart disease you need to examine how much you exercise and what’s on your plate. These two factors contribute to the size of your waist -- how overweight you are. Your weight and waist measurement determine your risk for heart disease.
• To help prevent heart disease you want a total cholesterol level of less than 200. And, the HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) should be at least 60 or more.
• Again, parents should establish heart-healthy eating habits for their children from day one. When they are off the breast (or bottle) and onto the food, it should be fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Parents should model behavior at the dinner table because what children learn in the early years will set the pattern for how they eat for the rest of their life. It’s never too soon to get started!
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