Posts Tagged ‘heart health nutrition’

Takeaways from Dr. Lundberg’s Heart-Healthy Holiday Eating Chat

heart health holiday eatingThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, December 9, for our live online chat on “Heart-Healthy Holiday Eating,” hosted by the Clinical Director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center, Gina Lundberg, MD.

With holiday parties in full swing, many of us are staying busy and eating on the go or overindulging in sweet party treats. Dr. Lundberg discussed heart-healthy tips and recipes, as well as answered your questions on how to make smart food and drink decisions.

See all of Dr. Lundberg’s answers by checking out the chat transcript! Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: What are some entrée or side substitutions I can make without losing the “holiday” touch?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: Turkey and ham are both lean meat, so entrees aren’t usually the problem The side dishes are usually where we run into trouble. Feel free to have your ham, turkey, and even lean pork and beef, but try to avoid the potato-heavy, cheesy side dishes.

 

Question: I crave sweets every day. What can I do to satisfy my cravings without reaching for the chocolate?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: The more sugar you eat, the more you crave sugar. If you stick to a diet that is higher in protein, you’ll be more satisfied and won’t crave sugar as much. Eating healthier snacks more frequently (fruit, veggies, raw nuts) will stop you from being hungry and eating the wrong things.

 

BONUS: Dr. Lundberg’s Top 10 Tips to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

holiday-health-tips

If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the chat transcript. If you have additional questions for Dr. Lundberg, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

 

Can the Right Diet Help Prevent Heart Disease?

Healthy DietThe simple answer is yes. A proper diet is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for heart disease. But changing entrenched eating habits can be difficult, and it can help to have a deeper understanding of the roles various nutritional components play in the function of your heart and circulatory system.

Fats
Fats serve a number of essential roles within your body, such as supporting cell growth, providing energy, helping with nutrient absorption and assisting in the production of certain hormones. But not all fats are the same, and it’s important to choose the right kinds to include in your diet.

In general, saturated fats and trans fats increase the bad type of cholesterol (LDL) in your blood. These fats tend to be solid at room temperature, such as butter. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), on the other hand, can help lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood. These types of fat tend to be liquid at room temperature, such as vegetable oil. LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque build-up on the inside walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis), thereby reducing or blocking blood flow. In addition, all fats are high in calories and can therefore contribute to overweight and obesity, which put additional strain on your heart muscle. Both overweight/obesity and atherosclerosis increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are a type of dietary nutrient that converts to glucose (sugar), which provides energy to cells throughout the body. The two basic types are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. In general, simple carbohydrates are less healthy because they convert quickly to glucose inside your body, resulting in blood sugar spikes that are associated with heart disease and diabetes, among other health conditions. Simple carbohydrates are found in things like fruit and milk, which contain naturally occurring sugars, but they also find their way into our diets as refined sugars that are added to processed foods.

Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to convert to glucose, and therefore are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Because your body needs carbohydrates to function, choosing complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain cereals and breads, vegetables, and legumes, instead of simple ones is better for your heart health. However, in large quantities, complex carbohydrates can also cause blood sugar spikes, so it’s important to consume even complex carbohydrates in moderation.

Protein
Protein is a component of every cell in the body. It helps the body produce new cells and repair damaged ones, and it’s essential in the production of vital chemicals in the body such as hormones and enzymes. But too much protein can actually be unhealthy. This is primarily because much of the protein we eat is in the form of meat that’s high in saturated fat , which is associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease. Also, too much protein in the diet often means that we eat smaller amounts of other important nutrients. The good news is that there are plenty of protein sources that aren’t high in saturated fat, such as lean meats, low-fat dairy products, peas and beans.

Sodium
Salt makes the body retain fluid. This, in turn, can lead to increased blood pressure and added burden on your heart muscle. One of the simplest ways to reduce your intake of sodium is to cut back on packaged and processed foods, which tend to be high in added salt.

It’s important to remember that maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste. Just take a look at some of Emory’s delicious HeartWise℠ recipes.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessment and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease as well as full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease care.

About Susmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS, FACC, FAHA

Susmita Parashar, MDSusmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS, FACC, FAHA is a board-certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center and an associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Prior to joining the faculty of the Division of Cardiology, Dr. Parashar was an assistant professor of medicine in Emory’s Division of General Medicine for eight years. She applies her experience as a board-certified internist in providing a holistic approach to patient care.

Dr. Parashar was awarded the American Heart Association (AHA) Trudy Bush Fellowship for Cardiovascular Research in Women’s Health, which recognizes outstanding work in the area of women’s health and cardiovascular disease, and the Emory Department of Medicine Early Career Faculty Research Award for Clinical Research.

Dr. Parashar completed her residency in internal medicine at the Medical College of Georgia and a cardiology fellowship at Emory University. She completed her master’s of public health and a master’s of science at Emory University in 2005.

A passionate clinician-researcher and educator, Dr. Parashar trains medical students, residents and cardiology fellows. In addition, she conducts clinical research. Dr. Parashar’s clinical and research focus is in preventive cardiology, with an emphasis on women and cardiovascular diseases. She has received several grants and awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the AHA to conduct research on women and heart disease and has authored or coauthored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications. Her work has been published in such prestigious journals as The New England Journal of Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine and Circulation and highlighted by national media organizations such as CNN, CBS and NPR.

She believes in family-career balance and applies her experience as a wife and the mother of two young children to her work.

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10 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Veggie Heart HealthyA healthy diet is one of the best ways to combat heart disease. And including healthier choices in your diet isn’t hard, since there are lots of delicious heart-healthy foods available, including whole grain breads, fruit, vegetables, fish, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and even chocolate. There are also some things you should avoid—or avoid too much of. Below are 10 tips to help you get on the path to a more heart-healthy diet.

  1. Eat Fish Regularly 
    Omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) that are found naturally in fish can provide numerous cardiovascular benefits, including reducing blood triglycerides, reducing blood clotting and regulating heart rhythms.
  2. Include Lycopene-Rich Foods in Your Diet
    Lycopene is a plant nutrient that has been associated with reducing the risk of heart disease. There is lots of lycopene in tomato products (particularly cooked ones), pink grapefruit and watermelon.
  3. Eat the Right Kinds of Fat
    Aim for a balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Research indicates that both types have benefits, including reducing the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Try choosing extra virgin olive oil or canola oil instead of butter or margarine, and natural peanut butter rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added. Also, almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are good sources of healthy fat and make for easy snacks.
  4. Eat Plenty of Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
    In general, richly colored fruits and vegetables contain lots of helpful plant nutrients, and many have been shown to help protect against heart disease, among other health conditions.
  5. Include Plenty of Fiber in Your Diet
    A diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber, in particular, helps lower cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, fruits (such as apples, pears, citrus fruits and berries), vegetables, (like carrots, cabbage and sweet potatoes) and legumes. Insoluble fiber is found in grain products like whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas.
  6. Eat Chocolate—in Moderation
    Milk chocolate, dark chocolate and bittersweet chocolate all contain a unique kind of saturated fat — stearic acid — that doesn’t raise blood cholesterol levels, and dark chocolate is also a good source of substances called antioxidants that are helpful in combating heart disease and other health problems. But chocolate also contains added sugars and caffeine , which should be consumed in limited portions (see below), so don’t eat too much.
  7. Try the DASH Eating Plan
    “DASH” stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The DASH diet is low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. In addition to helping with hypertension, the DASH diet may also help lower cholesterol. Learn more about the DASH Eating Plan.
  8. Reduce Salt
    Salt makes the body retain fluid, which can strain the heart. This can lead to increased blood pressure and added burden on your heart muscle. Try replacing added salt in your diet with fresh or dried herbs, lemon, onion or no-salt seasonings. Get ideas for other tasty salt substitutes.
  9. Limit Caffeine
    While there isn’t a consensus on the effects coffee can have on your heart, many experts recommend limiting caffeine intake to the equivalent of no more than three or four cups of coffee a day. But remember that other foods and drinks, such as tea, chocolate and many soft drinks, also contain caffeine and factor these into your daily total as well.
  10. Curb Added Sugars
    More than sugars found naturally in fruit and dairy products, added sugars are associated with elevated bad cholesterol and triglycerides and low good cholesterol, which increase the risk of heart disease.

If you are a woman who thinks you may be at a higher risk of developing heart disease, call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment with an Emory Women’s Heart Center specialist.

About Dr. Cutchins

Alexis Cutchins, MDAlexis Cutchins, MD is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Cutchins completed medical school at Emory University School of Medicine before going to New York Presbyterian Hospital for her internship and residency in internal medicine. She completed an NIH-supported research fellowship in vascular biology and a clinical fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at the University of Virginia in 2012. She has a special interest in heart disease in women, in addition to heart disease prevention and risk reduction in cardiology patients.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening for, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Price Lundberg, MD , provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessments and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease, as well as a full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease. Call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiac screening and find out if you are at risk for heart disease.

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