Get Heart Smart – It Could Save Your Life!

By Katherine Brooking, MS, RD

It’s a frightening statistic. Heart disease is the number one killer of American women and men today. In case that doesn’t scare you, here are a few more stats:

Heart disease causes approximately 25 percent of all deaths in the U.S. Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another. Heart disease treatments alone cost $108.9 billion in 2010.

Heart-Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Choices
Don’t Have to Be Complicated

I hope this gets your attention. There’s also some good news: How you choose to live your life can help you prevent getting heart disease. At “Appetite for Health,” we are all about prevention and solutions. It’s February, a.k.a. “American Heart Health Month.” And there’s no better time to make sure your heart is in tip-top shape.

For the first time, the American Heart Association (AHA) has defined what it means to have ideal cardiovascular health, identifying seven health and behavior factors that impact your health and quality of life. Known as “Life’s Simple 7,” these steps can help add years to your life:

1. Don’t smoke
2. Maintain a healthy weight
3. Engage in regular physical activity
4. Eat a healthy diet
5. Manage your blood pressure
6. Take charge of cholesterol
7. Keep blood sugar at healthy levels

When it comes to the “healthy diet” part, follow the AHA’s heart healthy eating guidelines.

AHA’s heart health eating guidelines:

• Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day
• Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week
• Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day
• Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day
• Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

Other dietary measures are:

• Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week
• Processed meats: No more than 2 servings a week
• Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake

For more info visit:

Remember, even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.

Some of our favorite heart-healthy grocery picks include: Leafy green veggies, salmon, brown rice, oats/oatmeal, 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes, soy milk, pears, strawberries, pistachios.

Katherine Brooking, MS, RD is a registered dietitian, expert contributor to numerous television programs and writer. She has appeared on The TODAY Show, Live with Regis & Kelly, The Early Show on CBS, Good Morning America Health and many others. She covers health and wellness topics in SELF Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times and New York Daily News. For more information go to

The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.

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