Beginning a health regimen is difficult. At first, the results are amazing as exercise increases our metabolism and weight begins to fall off. We feel better, healthier, happier, and our lives seem to be on track. Then one day,we have no time to take a walk or visit the gym, and we pick up fast food for dinner. Suddenly, we fall back into the routine that made us gain weight to begin with. How can we keep the momentum going? Surprisingly, a heart-healthy attitude is not as difficult as you might believe.
- Weight: Take in the correct amount of calories to maintain your ideal weight. You may have to cut back your caloric intake until you reach your goal, but once your weight is under control, determine what you can splurge on and occasionally help yourself to a couple of pieces of pizza, for instance. The goal is to eat healthy 95% of the time and let yourself have a reward 5% of the time. A healthy weight increases your odds of not contracting cardiovascular disease.
- Fiber: Add fiber to your diet. A good guideline is 25-35 grams of fiber every day. Fiber comes from plants, so eating a salad, beans, whole grains, or broccoli can help fill that demand.
- Sodium: Reduce the amount of salt in your diet. The average American should take in 1500 grams of sodium a day, but the average is closer to 2-3 times that amount. Look at the labels on most packaged foods, and you might be surprised to learn the sodium content within many of the foods you enjoy. According to the American Heart Association, if every American followed the sodium guidelines of 1500 grams a day, heart attacks and strokes would decrease 75%.
- Fat: Removing highly-processed foods, like hot dogs and bologna, along with foods high in fat and sodium-rich foods and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fiber, your heart will have a much better chance of remaining healthy.
These guidelines seem stringent, but you will find that if you make your meals from scratch, substituting packaged noodles for rice and sautéing chicken breasts rather than opening a can of processed chicken, your meals will be substantially lower in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and by using plant-based canola or olive oil rather than butter, your craving for fat will be met in a more appropriate manner.
To learn more about cardiovascular health, take a look at our other blogs. ReactDx wants you to have a heart-healthy state of mind; call 800-23-HEART and speak with one of our technicians concerning a cardiac event recorder to determine if your heart is in peak condition.