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The statistics concerning heart disease are sobering. Every year, more than 600,000 people in the United States die due to heart disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of cardiovascular disease, accounts for more than 370,000 of those deaths. Many times, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack. Approximately 735,000 Americans have heart attacks every year, with 210,000 of those occurring to people who have already had a previous heart attack. One in every five heart attacks is silent, meaning the person is not even aware they’ve had a heart attack, but the heart is damaged all the same.

Heart Healthy Shopping Tips

In honor of American Heart Month, let’s look at things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Many factors leading to good or poor cardiovascular health are under our control, such as the food we eat. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons in the fight against heart disease. Eating better is one of the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” steps to a healthier heart.

There’s no better place to begin making heart-healthy food choices than when you’re grocery shopping. Let’s look at some tips concerning what to eat and not to eat. Observing these recommendations will help you have a better idea of what you should be putting into your grocery shopping cart.

Eat Foods High in Fiber

Not only does fiber help to lower blood cholesterol levels, it also gives you a feeling of fullness which will also help you maintain a healthy weight, another of those “Life’s Simple 7” steps. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.

Eat Nuts

Walnuts and almonds, high in fiber and filled with many valuable nutrients, have a substantial impact on heart health. Research at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine found that Seventh Day Adventist’s who consumed nuts at least five times per week reduced their risk of developing heart disease by half.

Eat the Rainbow

Eat at least five servings of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables which are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. The intense colors of various fruits and vegetables indicate they’re rich in assorted vitamins and minerals, ensuring you eat a balanced, heart-healthy diet.

Consider Frozen fruits and Vegetables

Although buying and eating fresh is best, it’s not always possible. Frozen fruits and vegetables maintain the same levels of vitamins and minerals as fresh, and often at a fraction of the cost. Although canned fruits and vegetables exhibit some nutritional loss, they’re still better choices than junk food. Choose canned fruits and vegetables that are unsweetened and unsalted whenever possible.

Eat Fatty/Oily Fish

Eat a least two servings of fatty fish per week to lower your risk of heart disease. Fatty fish, such as salmon and trout, increases your body’s level of omega-3’s and are an essential part of a heart-healthy diet.

Buy Low-Fat Dairy and Meat

Reducing dietary fat by making wise choices in dairy and meat is an essential part of a heart-healthy diet. Dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheese) should be 2% fat or less. Instead of butter, choose heart-healthy spreads such as Promise, Benechol and Smart Balance. Avoid spreads containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Purchase skinless poultry. Breast portions (white meat) also contains less fat. Purchase lean meat with minimal amounts of visible fat. “Loin” cuts, such as sirloin and tenderloin, are generally leaner cuts of meat. Ground meat should have no more than 20% fat, less is even better. You should aim to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day.

Read Nutrition Labels

As you shop and prepare your meals, read nutrition labels to help you keep track of several important components of a heart-healthy diet. As already mentioned, limit cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day. Most seniors also require approximately 1500 mg of sodium per day. Many pre-prepared foods are high in sodium and often cause people to consume much more than this. Another good reason to read nutrition labels – a study suggests that people who read them are slimmer.

Make Changes Realistically

Just as the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” recommends, take small steps to make big changes. Begin with one or two changes, slowly adding others as you’re able to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed. This will lead to more success and you’re more likely to stick with the changes.

As you make these dietary changes, you may want to also begin making some of the other changes recommended in “Life’s Simple 7” such as getting more exercise, losing weight and stop smoking if you smoke. Your ticker will thank you for it.

After shopping, wouldn’t it be nice to return to Lake Park to prepare your heart-healthy meals? We have several different floor plans from which to choose, all containing a kitchen. In addition, you can enjoy our delectable dining options anytime from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. We are sure to have food on the menu that suits your fancy (and is good for your health). Contact us today to learn how you can become a part of the Lake Park family.

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