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May signals Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes are the no. 4 killer in this country. A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain abruptly stops. The biggest risk factor is uncontrolled high blood pressure – remember, high blood pressure is called the Silent Killer for a reason. And researchers state that 80% of strokes could have been prevented with quick action at the first symptoms.
To prevent a stroke, act F.A.S.T.:
(1) Face drooping – ask the person to smile
(2) Arm weakness – ask them to raise both arms
(3) Speech difficulty – ask then to repeat “the sky is blue”
(4) Time to call 911 when you first see a symptom
Stroke Risk Factors:
Time to take action when you observe in a person or you yourself have:
The key to preventing strokes is to act FAST. Take action now and don’t wait. A person needs to get to the ER for early medication treatment to stop cold a stroke that might be coming soon.
TIA or transient ischemic attack is a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms. TIA symptoms usually only last a few minutes but, if left untreated, people who have TIAs have a high risk of stroke. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce the risk of a major stroke.
More information at www.americanheart.org.
I am reminded each week, when I see patients for individual counseling, that some folks need to lower their cholesterol numbers by primarily diet. They may be unable to tolerate cholesterol-lowering meds, or there may be other reasons that the meds are just not right for them. So that means lifestyle is key!
To get cholesterol down, focus on healthy fiber foods at each meal:
To get cholesterol down, focus on healthy fats each day:
To get cholesterol down, focus on natural plant sterols in
Other tips to get cholesterol down to reduce fatty plaque build-up in artery walls:
Making lifestyle changes for better health? There is help! If you have Pre-Diabetes or Diabetes:
Making lifestyle changes for better health? There is help! If you have Heart issues:
Making lifestyle changes for better health? There is help! If you have Weight Management issues:
Other health issues where a Registered Dietitian might be able to offer some guidance with your food choices:
Our Nutrition and Diabetes Education Department will get a referral from the MD office. And YOU can call insurance to see if there is coverage. There is more coverage in disease prevention than ever before, so it is worth checking it out.
A recommendation on sodium intake has been made by the American Heart Association. It’s pretty aggressive. But these heart researchers feel very strongly that lowering sodium/salt intake can help the 76 million U.S. adults with high blood pressure, AND may prevent high blood pressure in millions of other Americans.
The average daily sodium intake: 3,400 mg. The USDA sodium guidelines: less than 2,300 mg, and the American Heart Association sodium guidelines: less than 1, 500 mg.
Sodium intake adds up quickly when you rely on convenience items. For example, a homemade spaghetti sauce has ~50 mg sodium in ½ cup but ½ cup jarred spaghetti sauce can be as high as 800 mg of sodium.
As much as possible, have dishes prepared from scratch, with flavorful herbs and spices for seasoning rather than salt. Remember, every time that you omit 1 teaspoon of salt from a recipe, you save 2,300 mg of sodium!! Holy cow!
Be alert when shopping. The Nutrition Facts label on each and every packaged food item MUST list the sodium content per serving. And the American Heart Association reminds us that reducing our sodium/salt intake can help keep the blood pressure of ALL family members in good control. And that will reduce cardiovascular disease risk!
For many years the American Heart Association has suggested that egg yolks be limited to 3 per week. A recent study 1,200 folks suggests that we might want to heed the AHA suggestions.
There is nothing like a poached egg on toast or an egg salad sandwich. But many times, egg whites will work very nicely in place of the whole egg.
This study published in the journal Atherosclerosis showed that independent of smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure having diabetes, and body mass index, eating more egg yolks per week slightly increased plaque in the arteries.
An apple a day is an old saying that has some health merit to it. In a recent study, post-menopausal women who ate 2 apples daily (in dried apple form) saw total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol drop! With more than $15.5 BILLION spent on statin drugs in a year, apples seem like an economical choice, too.
For the women who ate 2 apples/day, in 6 months, total cholesterol dropped 13%, from 250 to 218. The harmful LDL-cholesterol lowered 24% (!!) from 160 down to 132.
Why do apples seem to be fabulous for cholesterol reduction?
Apples, apples, apples….
In the U.S., 81million adults have cardiovascular disease, and over 800,000 die from this disease. Reducing cholesterol is one tool to lower risk. And a diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts – all sources of dietary fiber – seem to be a health (and economical) way to get a handle on this disease.
Chronic diseases are not just found here in the United States. Data from The World Health Organization (WHO) shows high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease are now in poor nations because of dietary and lifestyle changes.
The Worldwide Stats (and they aren’t pretty):
The Scope of Obesity Worldwide:
In poorer nations with less access to health care, chronic diseases are not diagnosed and treated. This equates to unnecessary disability and deaths.
Where do we go from here? Promote and encourage inexpensive personal lifestyle strategies to reduce chronic disease….
Yes, May is Stroke Awareness Month, and not smoking, maintaining a lean weight, leading an active life and choosing a more plant-based diet will reduce your risk for strokes. But a study reported in the professional journal Stroke reminds us of the importance of keeping sodium intake down.
The Northern Manhattan Project examined the diets of >2600 participants for more than 10 years. And ta-da…
the higher the sodium intake, the greater the risk for having a stroke.
More study results:
Those study participants who had the highest sodium intake …
Bottom line: Cut your sodium intake to keep your blood pressure in good control and reduce your risk for having a stroke!
Kitchen tips to reduce sodium:
Every health organization in this country recommends that we eat our fruits and vegetables every day – just like our mothers used to suggest when we were growing up. In a study of over 8,000 adults, very few were eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables – and therefore, missing protective substances called phytonutrients.
Carotenoids are a large group of phytonutrients including
The carotenoids are found in colorful produce such as carrots, pumpkin, yams; tomatoes and watermelon; and spinach.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients that may provide anti-inflammatory protection, thus reducing our risk for developing heart disease and cancer. They’re found in grapes, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, orange juice, oranges, lemons, limes, apples, tea and onions.
Phenols are phytonutrients that may protect cell integrity, reducing risk for cancer. Phenols are prevalent in strawberries, raspberries, apples, walnuts, and pecans.
From this study, the folks who ate more fruits and vegetables had more physical activity in their day – so overall, they seem to be more concerned about their heath. And older adults, as well as women, were more likely to get in the suggested amounts of produce.
At the recent annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, the best heart-healthy snacks were recommended to keep the vascular system in tip-top shape.
No. 1 Heart Healthy Snack (Top of the list): Raisins! They are high in antioxidants (to protect your arteries!), potassium (300 mg in a small box), and a good fiber source.
No. 2 Heart Healthy Snack: Soy foods. This includes soy milk (use in a fruit smoothie), soy cheese (a topper for whole-grain crackers), soy nuts, and oven-roasted edamame. Soy provides isoflavones for heart health.
No. 3 Heart Healthy Snack: Walnuts. These nuts are packed with potassium to lower blood pressure, as well as healthy monounsaturated oils. Also considered a great brain food!
No. 4 Heart Healthy Snacks: Avocados. This fruit has monounsaturated fats to lower cholesterol, and more potassium than a banana (700 mg for 1 cup of sliced avocado).
No. 5 Heart Healthy Snacks: High-fiber foods in general. This includes whole-grains such as oats (oat snack bars), multi-grain crackers and pretzels, popcorn, fruits and vegetables. Fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestinal tract, and may help with weight control.