Happy February! This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, our Integrity Urgent Care blog will include tips for keeping your heart healthy! Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Read on for simple changes that can make a big impact on your heart health!
1. Avoid trans fats. Not all fat is bad; we need unsaturated and even saturated fat in our diets. However, trans fat should be avoided as much as possible. Trans fat clogs your arteries by raising bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol levels (HDL). Cutting trans fats from your diet will improve blood flow throughout your body. Unlike other types of fats, which are naturally occurring, trans fats are manufactured. They are most often found in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarine, and fried fast foods to give flavor and texture. You can avoid trans fats by carefully reading food labels; often trans fat is listed as “partially hydrogenated oil”.
2. Snack smarter! One easy way to avoid these packaged snacks is to stock a desk drawer at work or a shelf in your refrigerator with heart healthy snacks. Try a few from the list below!
- Apples and pears
- Carrot and celery sticks
- Bell pepper slices
- Zucchini or cucumber circles
- Nuts and seeds (A great source of healthy fats!)
- Whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter
- Cherry tomatoes with hummus
- Low-fat or fat-free cheese
- Plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt and fresh fruit
- Fruit and veggie smoothies
- Whole-grain crackers with canned tuna or salmon
- Frozen grapes
3. Floss daily! Many studies show that the same bacteria that lead to gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause the elevation of a protein that can lead to inflammation of the blood vessels. Flossing will help remove any bacteria hiding between your teeth.
4. Avoid areas where you may come in contact with second-hand smoke. Even if you don’t smoke, studies show secondhand smoke can also increase your risk of developing heart disease. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at work or at home have a 25-30% higher chance of developing heart disease than those who have a smoke-free home and work environment. The chemicals emitted from secondhand smoke promote the development of plaque build-up in the arteries and interfere with proper blood flow
Check out our next post for more tips to help prevent heart disease. Remember that Integrity Urgent Care is open daily and can handle all your non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries!