About Medicine: Heart health and nutrition matter

Anthony Navone, MD
Marcus Daly Cardiology Services
A service of Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital
1200 Westwood Drive
Hamilton, MT 59840
(406) 375-4665


Heart Health and Nutrition Matter
During the month of February we are reminded just how important it is to maintain heart healthy habits. Unfortunately, we are also reminded that heart disease remains the number one cause of death for men and women in America. Despite all our medical advances, one in three Americans will die of heart disease. A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It's the overall pattern of your choices that counts. The American Heart Association recommends making the simple steps below as part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.

Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.

You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have minerals, protein, whole grains and other nutrients but are lower in calories. They may help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:
  • a variety of fruits and vegetables,
  • whole grains,
  • low-fat dairy products,
  • skinless poultry and fish
  • nuts and legumes
  • non-tropical vegetable oils
Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.

One of the diets that fits this pattern is the DASH(Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. Most healthy eating patterns can be adapted based on calorie requirements and personal and cultural food preferences.

Eat less of the nutrient-poor foods.

The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you're trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. You could use your daily allotment of calories on a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you probably wouldn't get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Read Nutrition Facts labels carefully - the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of healthy and unhealthy nutrients in a food or beverage.

As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:

Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars. Replace high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.

Choose fiber-rich whole grains for most grain servings.

Choose poultry and fish without skin and prepare them in healthy ways without added saturated and trans fat. If you choose to eat meat, look for the leanest cuts available and prepare them in healthy and delicious ways.

Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring).

Select fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1%) dairy products.

Limit saturated fat and trans fat and replace them with the better fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. If you need to lower your blood cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that's about 13 grams of saturated fat.

Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. A 12-ounce can of regular Coke contains 39 grams of total sugar, which is about 9 1/3 teaspoons of sugar

Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further. If you can't meet these goals right now, even reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day can benefit blood pressure.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you're a woman and no more than two drinks per day if you're a man.

Watch your portion size:

Compared to 20 years ago, the average portion size of common foods has increased significantly. For example, the average plate of spaghetti and three small meatballs was only 500 calories 20 years ago. Now, the average portion of spaghetti and three large meatballs is 1050 calories. The average burger twenty years ago was 333 calories, while present day burgers are 850 calories. Lastly, twenty years ago, a cup of coffee with creamer was only 45 calories. Your Mocha double latte with steamed whole milk and mocha syrup is around 375 calories.

Use up at least as many calories as you take in.

Start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. Nutrition and calorie information on food labels is typically based on a 2,000 calorie diet. You may need fewer or more calories depending on several factors including age, gender, and level of physical activity.

If you are trying not to gain weight, don't eat more calories than you know you can burn up every day.

Increase the amount and intensity of your physical activity to match the number of calories you take in.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity - or an equal combination of both - each week.

Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness. If it's hard to schedule regular exercise sessions, try aiming for sessions of at least 10 minutes spread throughout the week.

If you are working on lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week.

Diminish your likelihood of developing heart disease! Make 2017 a year that you make heart healthy dietary choices.

February is American Heart Month, let's celebrate together! Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital and the International Heart Institute of Montana have teamed up to provide you with the next class in the Healthcare Education Series about Heart Health and Nutrition. Join us Thursday, February 9, 2017 from 5:30pm to 6:30pm in the Blodgett and Canyon View conference rooms as Anthony Navone, MD, from Marcus Daly Cardiology Services talks about heart healthy nutrition! Learn about what you eat and how much of it matters to your heart. You will explore the latest on reducing the risk of cardiac disease through proper nutrition, including what fats actual do to your body, the difference between cholesterol and fats, and more! This class is designed for anyone diagnosed with cardiac disease or those just looking to improve their diet.

Questions and or comments regarding this week's health column please contact, Anthony Navone, MD at Marcus Daly Cardiology Center, a service of Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, 1200 Westwood Drive, Hamilton, MT 59840. Working together to build a healthier community!
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