February is Heart Health Month – Know Your Numbers!

Wear RED on Saturday, February 4th

Did you know that Friday, February 3rd is National Wear Red Day!  National Wear Red Day supports the American Heart Association Go Red For Women movement to end heart disease and stroke in women.  Fortunately nearly 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. So on Saturday, February 4th, wear something red to class.  Show your commitment to reducing risk, improving health and saving lives!  Learn more about the American Heart Association Go Red for Women movement by visiting online at www.GoREDForWomen.org.  

What You Need to Know About Your Cholesterol

Too much cholesterol can cause heart disease.  Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the US.

heartWhat cholesterol does

Your body needs cholesterol.  It helps keep cells healthy.  It also helps make hormones, vitamin D and some acids that break down fat.  But you only need a little cholesterol.  Most people get too much.  The extra cholesterol goes into your blood and builds up inside your arteries.  (Arteries are tubes that carry blood through your body).  The buildup is called plaque.

The amount of cholesterol in  your blood depends on many things.  Some people’s bodies just make too much “bad” cholesterol and too little “good” cholesterol.  But exercise and what you eat make a difference, too.

What You Can Do

  • Know your cholesterol numbers – Schedule an appointment with your medical provider for blood work
  • See below for 6 ways to control your cholesterol and 6 foods to add to your diet.
  • Talk to your doctor – Your doctor may have ideas to help you.

cholesterol

Six Ways to Control Cholesterol

  1. Get moving – Exercise can raise HDL and lower LDL, especially if you are overweight.  Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.  Walking is a great start.
  2. Eat just enough calories to reach or keep a healthy weight.  Calorie counts are listed on food labels.  visit www.myfitnesspal.com to learn how many calories you need each day.
  3. Eat less saturated fats and trans fats.  Saturated fats are in meat, butter, cheese, coconut oil.
  4. Use heart-healthy fats – See below for “Six Healthy Fats to Add to your Diet”.
  5. Eat more vegetables & fruits.
  6. Don’t smoke

Six Healthy Fats to Add to your Diet

Olive Oil

With one tablespoon of olive oil boasting 10 grams of healthy monounsaturated fat, it may be time to make this your go-to salad dressing. To lower saturated fat intake, use olive oil in place of butter for bread and pasta or to sauté vegetables and proteins. Ditch the store-bought salad dressings and try making your own simple vinaigrette using olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard.

Avocados

Did you know that avocados are the only fruit with healthy fats? That’s right, your favorite guac ingredient boasts 3 grams of monounsaturated fat and 0.5 polyunsaturated grams fat per 1-ounce serving (or 1/5 of a medium avocado). That’s not the only reason to smash this food on your toast—avocados contribute fiber, antioxidants, and nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals.

Pistachio Nuts

Few things in life are more satisfying than noshing on crunchy foods. Pistachios are a great pick, as 90 percent of the fats in these nuts are the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated ones. Pistachios deliver the total nutrition package, too, as a good source of fiber and protein, helping you squash hunger and feel fuller longer.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are no longer just for Halloween. Eat these babies year-round for a dose of healthy fats—75 percent of the fat in pumpkin seeds is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. They also deliver a nutrient-packed crunch, providing fiber, protein, omega-6 fatty acids, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals.

Cooked Salmon

The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon at least twice a week, and for good reason: Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids—these are essential fatty acids that the body can’t produce on its own and must be obtained from your diet. Omega-3s have been extensively studied for their role in heart health and have been proven to help protect against heart disease, lower triglycerides, decrease risk of arrythmias, and lower blood pressure.

Flaxseed

Don’t be fooled by this seed’s tiny size—it packs a powerful punch. Flaxseed is loaded with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 that’s found in plant-based foods and that has been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol. Just two tablespoons of flaxseed will provide more ALA than the daily recommended amount, but be sure to opt for ground flaxseed for optimal nutrient absorption. Sprinkle ground flaxseed over salads, toast, oatmeal, and smoothies, or use it as an egg replacement in baked goods. Flax is also the perfect nutrient boost for these Peanut Butter and Flax Energy Bites or Banana Flax Muffin in a Mug.

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