(02/10/20) BATON ROUGE, La. — Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
February is designated as American Heart Month to bring attention to heart health.
LSU AgCenter nutrition specialist and registered dietitian Denise Holston said several factors that can put you at risk for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity, obesity and unhealthy eating patterns.
Adjusting our diets can improve the heart’s condition, she said.
“We tend to consume diets that are too high in sodium. One way to decrease the amount of sodium in your diet is to eat more fruit and vegetables,” Holston said. “If fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t an option, rinse canned vegetables or choose low-sodium versions of your favorite canned foods.”
Reading food labels can help you make wise choices. Opt for items that have less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving for low-sodium options and less than 35 milligrams per serving for a very low-sodium option, she said.
Another diet modification that can reduce your risk of heart disease is eating fewer foods high in trans and saturated fat as well as those high in added sugar.
Holston also suggested eating more fresh protein and low-fat dairy products.
“If you still want to spice up your food, add spices, garlic or fresh herbs to flavor foods,” she said.
A physically inactive lifestyle can also lead to heart disease, Holston said. Adults should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
She recommended doing things you enjoy, such as gardening or taking a brisk walk and incorporating small bouts of physical activity throughout the day.
“I take a 10-minute walk right after I eat lunch,” she said.
If none of these options works, at least try to decrease sedentary activities such as watching TV and sitting while on the computer for great lengths of time.
Moderate-intensity physical activities include very brisk walking, bicycling, gardening, water aerobics and even heavy housework such as power mowing or washing windows.
Holston also warned that smoking can increase your chances of heart disease. You can receive free advice, resources and even support to assist you with breaking the habit at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
The dietitian also said to work with a health care provider to help manage your health.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture