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Posts Tagged ‘sodium’

Now that we’ve enjoyed too much chocolate candy for Valentine’s, wStethoscope Heart Clip Art hat next? February shares the heart of romance with another important event―the human heart. This is American Heart Month. One in four will die from heart disease. It remains the number one cause of death for both men and women with African-Americans the most susceptible. Many of these fatalities can be avoided by choosing a healthier lifestyle, including what we eat.

Small changes in diet make a difference by keeping the circulatory system healthier. These major changes may help keep you alive and well.

  • Decrease saturated fats and trans fats: Fats in whole milk, butter, sour cream, and similar products plus skin of chicken or turkey increase risks for blood clots. For better health, switch to unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are abundant in salmon, mackerel, trout, walnuts, soybean products, corn oil, sunflower oil and some seeds. Unsaturated oils can help off-set heart problems by lowering coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • Decrease salt intake: The Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 2400 milligrams of sodium each day. Table salt is about 40 percent sodium. Excess intake can increase fluid retention and is a major factor in hypertension (high blood pressure). Foods exceptionally high in salt/sodium include processed foods, luncheon meats, canned and instant soups, pickled products, salted nuts and snacks, and most fast foods. Common words to look for on labels include sodium bicarbonate, sodium caseinate, sodium citrate, sodium saccharin, sodium phosphate, sodium glutamate (MSG) and others.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases risks for heart disease. Reducing weight a few pounds can make a big difference.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables: These foods have limited or no sodium or fat.

In addition to healthy foods, remember other lifestyle practices can make a difference. Aim toward at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times per week. Nix all tobacco products. Take care of your heart. It’s the only one you have.

 

 

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Eating trends vary from year to year. The same holds true for 2015 as we reach this year’s half-way mark. The Dairy Council of California compiled a list of these food-related shifts, many that emphasize better health. See if these changes have influenced your lifestyle.

Healthy eating has come to mean more than nutrients. The term now encompasses environmental issues; GMO produced foods, hormones and antibiotics used in food production, organic foods, and water usage.

Dietary patterns shifted for the forthcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The committee compiling the guidelines discussed not only the healthly style patterns of the U.S., but the healthy Mediterranean and vegetarian style patterns as well.

The use of sugar remains controversial. Most health professionals agree that we, as a society, consume too much. Sugar is often implicated in such conditions as diabetes and obesity. New guidelines may advise reducing sugar added to the diet to less than ten percent of total calorie intake.

The sodium controversy continues. Major health organizations differ on the current recommended levels of 1500 to 2300 mg/day. Currently, consumption of sodium is about double the recommendations. Some health groups maintain that lower sodium levels benefit only about one-third of the population and certain segments of people need more sodium than currently suggested.

Protein remains the major nutrient for building muscle. It also plays a significant role in weight management, bone health, and blood sugar control. Meat and dairy continue as sources of highest quality protein. Protein seems to benefit consumers more when eaten at evenly distributed intervals throughout the day.

Probiotics and gut microbiome interests have increased in recent years. Who would have considered this area as a major player for health? Probiotics benefit intestinal health and the immune system. Current research has focused on its preventive effects in chronic diseases including cancer, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Microbiome may influence processes that affect health and disease as varied as food digestion to brain function.

Snacks now provide about one-fourth of the daily calories consumed plus a great proportion of the day’s supply of fat, sugar, and salt. Snacks can taste good and add substantially to the day’s nutrient needs. However, too many people continue to indulge in less nutritious choices.

Nutrition education is changing. The increasing use of technology helps consumers access their own information on nutrition needs. The internet has both good and bad sources. For reliable resources, stick with government websites to assure updated, accurate food facts.

Change is inevitable. A positive note for these 2015 trends is the expanding definitions and dialogue for substituting less nutritious foods for healthier ones. That’s a trend that affects all of us.

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