Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every four deaths each year is caused by heart disease. Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is severely reduced or blocked. Men are more likely to develop heart disease after age 45. Women have a higher risk after age 55 or following menopause.
Consider the following steps you can take to help protect your heart.
Know your numbers: High blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your provider about ways to improve your numbers.
Stop smoking: To quit, contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Model your plate using the DASH Eating Plan, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan: Choose more plant foods including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat lean dairy and proteins including fish, skinless poultry, and beans. Use heart healthy fats such as canola and olive or vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Limit sodium, sugar-sweetened drinks, and desserts.
Physical activity: Set a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Sitting less can help control weight, decrease stress, and improve sleep quality.
Prioritize sleep: Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep a night.
Herbs and spices can turn a bland, flavorless dish into a mouthwatering meal full of flavor the whole family will love! Not only do they add flavor, but they add health benefits too. Herbs and spices are full of nutrients and antioxidants that can make your meals more nutritious. For example, the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties in garlic help reduce inflammation and provide immune system support.
In addition to adding flavor and health benefits, using herbs and spices to season your food can help reduce excessive salt intake. Those following a Heart Healthy diet, DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet, or simply monitoring their sodium intake will benefit from the addition of herbs and spices when cooking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day! Incorporating herbs and spices to season foods can decrease sodium intake and help you stay within the recommended sodium guidelines.
Have fun experimenting with different herb and spice blends and discover your family’s favorites! Try using different blends for different food items, and even make your own blends by drying fresh herbs from the garden.
Herb and Spice Recommendations by Food
Poultry: parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage
Beef: cloves, hot pepper, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, garlic
Mother always said you are what you eat. What we eat becomes more connected to our bodies every day. Now scientific evidence suggests diet plays a bigger role in brain health than we ever knew. Following a brain healthy diet (MIND diet) can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by 35–53%. MIND diet research at Rush University followed 923 individuals aged 58–98 for more than four years. Reduction in dementia risk among those who closely or moderately followed the diet was observed.
The MIND diet combines the Mediterranean diet pattern and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet with mild calorie restriction. The MIND diet encourages minimally processed plant-based foods and limited consumption of animal foods high in saturated fat. It also encourages food found to be potentially brain protective such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, poultry, and berries. Research continues on the effects of the MIND diet on cognitive decline in the brain.
Foods to Eat More:
Beans, every other day
Berries, at least twice per week
Fish, at least once per week
Green leafy vegetables, every day
Other vegetables, at least once per day
Nuts, every day
Poultry, at least twice per week
Whole grains, three times per day
Foods to Eat Less:
Fried food or fast food, less than one serving per week
Pastries and sweets, no more than five servings per week
Red meat, three 3- to 5-ounce servings per week
Butter and stick margarine, less than one pat a day
Whole fat cheese, one to two ounces per week
Source: Diet for the Mind, Dr. Martha Clare Morris, 2017.