Question: With it being American Heart Month, I’m curious what dietary changes I should make in order to stave off heart disease? Just trying to be proactive rather than reactive!
Answer: First of all, kudos for focusing on prevention! As far as diet is concerned, there are definitely some modifications you can make, but to be honest, they aren’t all that new. For starters, you could try following the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet focuses on specific amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins. I follow a Whole-Food Plant-Based diet for disease prevention. The WFPB way of eating has even reversed heart disease in numerous studies. It focuses on whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), vegetables, fruits, dark leafy greens, daily multivitamin, vitamin B12 supplement, and ground flaxseed. Sounds pretty healthy, right? In fact, the diet has been shown to reduce hypertension, and can also decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke over time. But even if you don’t follow a comprehensive diet, you should still try to limit your sodium intake, reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats, moderate your alcohol consumption (no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women), and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. All of these changes will go a long way in helping to protect your heart, and the rest of your cardiovascular system. If you want additional information, check out the American Heart Association website, www.americanheart.org, or consult with a registered dietitian.
Andrea Ivins is the club manager and Zumba Instructor at Anytime Fitness in Palestine, TX. To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org and thrivingivins.com.