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Nutrition
Updated On: Apr 05, 2010


Research has shown a close relationship between our diet and heart health. With cardiac disease topping the charts as the number one killer of Americans, we should be educated about heart healthy diets. Below you will find the latest diet recommendations from the most respected authorities on health today.

The following information is supported by:

ü  The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (NHLBI)

ü  American Heart Association (AHA)

ü  Center For Disease Control (CDC)

DASH Diet (I’m not making this up)

D.A.S.H. stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. It is based on an eating plan rich in fruits and vegetables, and low fat or non-fat dairy. It is also the basis for the new USDA recommended food pyramid.

 

Daily Nutrient Goals used in the DASH Studies (for a 2100 Calorie Eating Plan)

Total fat: 27% of calorie
Saturated fat: 6% of calories
Protein: 18% of calories
Carbohydrate: 55% of calories                                                           
Cholesterol: 150 mg
Sodium: 2,300 mg*
Potassium: 4,700 mg
Calcium: 1,250 mg
Magnesium: 500 mg
Fiber: 30 g

This eating plan limits saturated fat and cholesterol and focuses on foods rich in nutrients that lower blood pressure like potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Foods To Eat

· Oily Fish and Lean Protein- Mackerel, tuna and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids. This has been proven to improve vessel elasticity and also thins the blood like an aspirin a day. Chicken and Turkey breast are great sources of lean protein.

 

· Good Oils- Olive Oil and Canola oil also contain Omega-3's without the saturated fat. Corn and Safflower oil contains omega-6 fatty acids which help lower cholesterol.

 

· Fruits and Vegetables- Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables offer protection against heart disease. They also contain folate, which has been proven to lower blood levels of amino acid and homocysteine which are both linked to cardiac disease. 

 

· Fiber- Fiber from whole grains are more heart healthy than any other form of fiber. Look for breads and cereals with 100% whole grains.  

 

· Unrefined Carbohydrates- Again, whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals are much better for you than traditional carbs. Whole grains prevent blood sugar spikes and control the early onset of diabetes.

 

· Nuts and Seeds- Nuts and seeds are rich in the good fats (unsaturated) and are rich in vitamin E which protects against "bad" cholesterol. Walnuts and almonds are popular choices.

 

· Tea- Especially green tea and white tea contain powerful antioxidants that guard against free radical damage to the heart vessels.

 

· Alcohol- 1-2 drinks of alcohol per day has been shown to be heart healthy. Especially red wine which carries a lot of antioxidants that protect the heart and vessels from free radical damage. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can cause liver damage.

 

· Vitamin E- Vitamin E has been shown to lower "bad" cholesterol. It's better to get it from food as supplements don't have the same benefits. Vitamin E is in avocados, dark green vegetables, vegetable oils, and whole grains.

Foods To Avoid

·  Fried Foods- Need I say more? Fried foods are high in saturated fat. Cutting out fried food from our diet would make dramatic changes alone.

 

· Red Meat- Especially the fatty or marbled cuts. Try to stick to the sirloin and strip steaks if you're like me and you just have to BBQ steaks in the summer. Trim the fat and avoid over salting it.

 

· Salt- Avoid adding salt to your food, but also beware of sodium (salt) in processed and packaged food.

 

Conclusion

 

Firefighters are more likely to die from heart disease than any other cause. Any one of us would not hesitate to risk our lives for a fallen comrade. Take a moment and do some research about a reasonable ways we can save lives and extend our livelihood with appropriate dietary changes.

 

Resources

 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health, of the US Department of Health and Human Services)

The American Heart Association (A.H.A)

USDA, MyPyramid.gov

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C)

 


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