Have a Healthy Heart

February 07, 2012

February is all about our heart! With both Valentines day and American Heart Month, find out some of the best foods for your heart

February is all about our heart! Since 1963 Congress has required the president to proclaim February as “American Heart Month,” a time when we recognize that heart disease is our nation’s number one killer - and also a time when we urge Americans to join the battle against the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event. The most common is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack.

The chance of developing coronary heart disease can be greatly reduced by taking steps to prevent and control factors including high blood pressure and cholesterol that put people at greater risk - diet and exercise play a huge role in preventing these conditions.

A report from the CDC found that one-third of adults have high blood pressure, a third of them untreated, and half do not have it fully under control. A similar story for cholesterol levels, a third of US adults have poor cholesterol readings, half of them are untreated, and two thirds do not have their cholesterol fully controlled. CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said that 100 million adults, nearly half the US adult population, have either high blood pressure or unhealthy cholesterol levels.

The American Heart Association projects that the costs of heart disease will triple between now and 2030, to more than $800 billion a year; treating high blood pressure was singled out as the most expensive part of the cost, rising to $389 billion by 2030. Now let’s remind ourselves here, heart disease is largely preventable, through a healthy lifestyle including a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as staying active.

SupermarketGuru’s healthy heart tips:
First off, create a shopping list, creating a list ahead of time not only allows you to make meal plans for the days ahead but also helps you focus your grocery trip. With a list, you can expect saving of around 20 to 25 percent.

So what should your list include?
Heart healthy antioxidant rich foods include: tomatoes, oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), green tea, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, cocoa (dark chocolate), berries, apples, and whole-grains. Studies have shown that those who ate 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day had a 39 percent lower risk of stroke than those who did not.

Blue and purple produce like eggplant, plums, red cabbage and grapes are rich in anthocyanidins which help lower risk of heart attack and stroke by dilating blood vessels - keeping the blood flowing freely.

Included on your list should be foods rich in essential fatty acids like nuts (unsalted), olive oil, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, avocados, salmon, chia or salba, trout, sardines, herring, and mackerel.

Garlic and onions are also important for heart health as they contain compounds that can help reduce cholesterol levels.

Drinking water and staying active is also great for your heart. Purchase a reusable water bottle and refill with filtered water - available in most places - so you can have water on the go, remain hydrated, and save money.

Making conscious choices when shopping or eating out can go a long way. Help out your heart with SupermarketGuru’s shopping tips. And as always, please consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.