A registered dietitian in Sunnybrook’s heart program offers easy heart health tips that everyone can benefit from.
Top 5 Heart Health Tips
Nine out of ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease, which is our second leading cause of death. But the power of prevention is in your hands says Registered Dietitian Daphna Steinberg. So lifestyle is the cornerstone for prevention and for treatment, as well as an adjunct to medication. She offers her five top tips for heart health, starting with food. Try and keep a healthy diet that’s low in fat, low in sodium or salt, and high in fibre. So things like lots fruits and vegetables to get your fibre, fresh foods to avoid the salt, try to stay away from fried foods and processed foods as much as possible. Steinberg says it’s critical to read your nutrition facts table and ingredients list closely. A few things to look for: a low sodium food contains 200 milligrams or less per serving. Limit your total daily sodium intake to between 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams, or about half a teaspoon. For transfats, the label should read zero. But beware, some foods may contain transfat in the ingredient list without showing up on the label. So avoid foods containing partially hydrogenated oils and shortenings. Limit your total fat to no more than 30 percent of your total calories for the whole day, which includes healthy fats like omega-3s. For fibre, you need 21 grams per day, so reach for fruits and veggies in their solid form, as well as whole grain cereals and breads. Tip two would be to avoid smoking, absolutely. If you don’t smoke, you don’t want to start. And if you do smoke, you want to quit. Smoking is related to about one in five deaths from heart disease. It can damage blood vessels, decrease the amount of oxygen to the heart and boost blood pressure. Tip three: keep an active lifestyle. For some people, that means going to the gym on a regular basis. For other people, that doesn’t really work for them. That means finding something that does. Thirty minutes of moderate activity, meaning your heart rate is elevated is recommended everyday. And that goes hand in hand with next tip: maintaining a healthy body weight. Steinberg says, portion control is key. We do know that a healthy body weight is important for reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke, and it helps to keep your blood pressure under control. When it comes to waist circumference, men should not exceed 102 centimeters, and women should not exceed 88 centimeters. And finally, reduce your stress! External stress can put internal stress like oxidative stress as way. Your body does react to things your brain sends out different hormones when you’re stressed. Approaches that have been shown to work include meditation, exercise and healthy eating. And laughter doesn’t hurt either. With Sunnyview, I’m Monica Matys.