By Hannah Robaczewski, RDN, CD
February is Heart Health Month and Jackson In Action wants to keep you informed on how to keep your heart ticking!
The term “heart disease” can mean an amount of conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cardiac arrest, and congestive heart failure. Heart disease is the most common killer of both men and women in the United States, but there are many important steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
We’ve all heard about how cholesterol can negatively affect our health, but what is it exactly? The American Heart Association recently introduced updated guidelines on how risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol, are viewed. Earlier guidelines used HDL (healthy cholesterol) and LDL (unhealthy cholesterol) as risk factors on their own. However, more recent research shows that more needs to be taken into account than just cholesterol. Lifestyles, eating and exercise habits, and smoking habits are now considered as important as HDL and LDL in an overall assessment for heart disease risk. Maintaining normal levels of cholesterol is beneficial, but also maintaining an overall healthful lifestyle is a better indication for a lifetime of heart health.
Jackson In Action is Here for Your Heart
We encourage this type of lifestyle and recommend you to reach out to your primary care provider to discuss your risk for heart disease and how to reduce it. No matter your age or stage of life, being healthy is a goal we can all work toward, especially for our hearts.
Heart Healthy Foods
The base of any healthy lifestyle starts with the diet. Here are some foods known to promote heart health:
Fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich legumes, such as chickpeas, black and kidney beans, pinto and white beans
Oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
Berries—they maintain healthy blood vessels and blood pressure as well as cholesterol and heart tissue
Nuts and nut butters, a good source of healthy fats
Low-fat dairy products
Bananas, which are rich in potassium
Dark chocolate (needs to be at least 70 percent cacao) may reduce Inflammation (in moderation)
Red wine may help improve good cholesterol. For those choosing to drink, keep it to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men at maximum.
Hannah Robaczewski is a registered dietitian working in the rural Wisconsin area.