Treat Your Heart to a Little TLC

Your heart pumps approximately 100,000 times every day, delivering oxygen and nutrients to all of your muscles and organs.  To keep up this essential work, your heart needs your help to stay healthy!  A diet with too much fat, carbohydrates and sodium can increase inflammation and wreck havoc on the heart.  In our everyday lives, heart damage can lead to increased exertion and fatigue, need for daily medications and an overall decrease in quality of life.  Excessive damage can lead to heart disease, especially if you already have other risk factors.

Risk factors for heart disease include:
– Diabetes*
– Previous stroke
-Peripheral artery disease
-Chronic kidney disease
-Abdominal aortic aneurysm
-Cigarette smoking
-Poor diet
-Physical inactivity
-Obesity (BMI ≥25), especially at the waist
-Family history of coronary heart disease
-High blood pressure
-High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
-Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol

 *Risk factors in BOLD are HIGH risk.  Those with high risk should meet with a dietitian to discuss individualized lifestyle changes.

Are you AT RISK? Click below to find out your risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years.

No matter your risk level, it’s time to treat your heart to a little ‘TLC’!

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) is a set of guidelines developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program for people wanting to protect themselves from heart disease or heart attack. Look over our condensed version below for highlights and suggestions.

1. Eat less saturated or “bad” fats.  This means less whole or 2% milk, cheese, ice cream, high-fat meat ≤85%, beef, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, baked goods, candy, fried foods, and convenience store foods.

pizzaReplace these foods with 1% or skim milk, skinless chicken, turkey or fish, and snacks like grapes, clementines, grape tomatoes and baby carrots and you’re in the clear!

2. Keep CARB portions in check. When in doubt, eat half!  Use the Plate method- only 1/4th of your plate should be starches or carbs.  Limit pasta, rice, corn, dried beans, and potato servings to ½ cup (tennis ball or ½ women’s fist), choose mini bagels/muffins or cut them in half, pick bread with smaller slices, and choose pancakes and tortillas with a smaller (aprox. four inch) diameter.

3. Eat more FIBER.  Fruits and vegetables should make up 1/2 of your plate – make it a goal to eat at least 5 a day (one serving is about the size of a woman’s fist.)  You can also add fiber-full beans to soups, salads, pasta, rice, or casseroles, or simply eat them as a side dish.  Finally, choose grain products with ‘whole grain’ listed as the first ingredient on the label (examples: whole grain pasta, bread, brown rice, tortilla or pancake mix.)


Other ways to treat your heart:
– Aim for 2 servings of fish every week. Pick salmon, tuna, whitefish or trout for the highest Omega-3 Fatty acid content.
– Throw a small handful of nuts on your cereal or salad, or eat them plain. Walnuts and almonds are the best for your heart!
– Check with your doctor before starting regular exercise. Make a goal to get 30-60 minutes of heart-pounding, aerobic activity most days of the week. Even speed walking around the neighborhood with a friend or running the stairs in your house is a great workout!

strong heart



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s