We are going to share three (3) ways to a healthier heart for men. We know, we know, men aren’t necessarily known for taking care of themselves, particularly if it involves a visit to…[insert wince here]…. the doctor’s. However, there are some easy ways to keep your heart healthy.
Father’s Day just passed and with it a lot of tasty food (and probably a beer or two). You probably ate more food than you meant to, drank a little more than you wanted and may have ended up feeling like you did just a little too much. And, since more men die from heart disease than any other disease, it is essential to look at these risks and act to reduce these potential players in heart disease. Good nutrition and lifestyle play big roles in keeping your heart healthy.
[i]Being overweight or obese, eating fatty foods, smoking cigarettes and being inactive put you at greater risk for heart disease. Cholesterol levels and blood pressure are also important when considering risk factors. The following increase the chances of heart disease:
- High LDL “bad” cholesterol (greater than 100 mg/dL)
- High triglycerides (greater than 150 mg/dL)
- Low HDL “good” cholesterol (less than 60 mg/dL)
- High blood pressure (greater than 120/80)
Having a Healthy Heart
The fastest way to controlling risk of heart disease is by eating right. Eat foods that are low in fat, fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins. Fill up on high fiber foods. By filling up on high-fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables you will also feel fuller longer and naturally limit your caloric intake.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Fat)
Fat can be good or bad. You need fat in your diet, but the amount and kind of fat you eat makes a difference. Fat should make up 20-35% of your total calories, with only 10% coming from saturated (unhealthy) fat. Research shows eating too much saturated fat is not good for the heart. Foods such as bacon, red meat, butter and ice cream contain saturated fat.
Avoid trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils. These fats can clog arteries and raise cholesterol levels. Trans fats are found in commercial baked goods and fried foods. In November 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.
Unsaturated fat should be treated differently. Research shows that unsaturated fat has been found to be beneficial for overall cardiovascular (heart) health. Foods including olive oil, avocados, and almonds contain unsaturated fat, and help cholesterol levels by raising “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol.
There is a type of unsaturated fat that is found in certain fish with ‘good’ fat. This is called Omega-3 fatty-acids, and it has been found to be helpful in preventing sudden death from heart attacks. Fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, contain two types of omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The recommended daily intake for omega-3 fatty acids is 500 milligrams per day. That is approximately two 6-ounce servings of fish per week.
Slow and Steady Weight Loss Wins the Race to Good Heart Health
In men, having a 40-inch or larger waistline may be a sign of unhealthy habits and could lead to an unhealthy heart. Getting rid of stomach (belly) fat is important, but as important is to lose the weight slowly as it provides the best results, creating a lifestyle change and not a diet (often turns into a yo-yo diet – weight goes up and down as you diet – if not a part of your lifestyle).
Just like with any habit, don’t quit all unhealthy food ‘cold turkey’. Try gradually subtracting about 500 calories from your daily intake instead. Moderation is the key. If you moderate your portion sizes a small amount at a time you won’t feel the loss of food, but your waistline (and heart) will thank you for it. Moderating portion sizes, limiting sugars and ‘bad fats will show results in no time. Achieving a small 5-10% drop in weight will improve your overall health.
Men, Exercise Your Way to a Healthier Heart
For men, or women, you should exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes of regular, aerobic activity a majority of the week. Note that you don’t have to strain yourself to make minor changes in your daily life in order to achieve 30-60 minutes of daily activity. Seemingly minor activities like walking, biking or dancing are great options. And, to maintain tone and strength, you should involve yourself in strength training, such as weightlifting, at least two to three times per week.
For more information on heart health, please visit our FAQ page at http://www.miamicpr.com/faq-cardiac-facts-statistics/.
Call 305-424-8460 or email [email protected] today to be prepared in the event of a heart episode.