Too many burgers and French fries with a donut chaser aren’t doing your ticker any favors. In moderation, please!
In fact, poor diet is setting you up for heart disease and stroke, and it’s bound to catch up with you – given the odds. Cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three deaths in the United States.
As a wake-up call, the American Heart Association (AHA) has released new guidelines for heart disease and stroke prevention. The dietary advice? “Emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Red meat and sugary foods and beverages should be limited,” says AHA. “The overall dietary pattern should include less sodium.”
So less red meat, and more vegetables, fish and poultry, mind the salt. As nutritionists like to say, the veggies and greens should take up half your dinner plate. The one simple most important change to your diet, though, is eat more fish.
The recommendation to consume more fish is backed by countless studies supporting the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, from fatty, oily fish, for cardiovascular health. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid, and DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, which are plentiful in fish.
AHA and other authoritative groups, now advise eating at least two servings of fish – preferably oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines – per week to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
Population studies by Harvard Medical School consistently have found that omega-3 intakes can reduce risk of death from Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). In fact, two servings of fatty fish a week has been found to decrease the risk of heart attack by 36 percent.
Results from clinical studies of omega-3 intake through supplements and CHD death have also had positive results in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and supporting a strong and healthy heart.
From Harvard research, in examining healthy people, the individuals with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids experienced a 48 percent reduction in risk of CHD death, compared to those with the lowest levels.
So, what do these omega-3 levels mean for your diet? Researchers say an average intake of 250 to 400 mg EPA and DHA daily will do the trick to support your heart, which can be achieved by two fatty fish meals per week, as recommended by AHA and other international health organizations.
Heart disease and stroke statistics published by AHA are a grim reminder that the burden of cardiovascular disease remains staggeringly high. Cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three deaths in the U.S., and is the most costly of all diseases. In 2010, the estimated costs of heart disease and stroke was $315.4 billion. That cost does not include the hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the toll it takes on their family and loved ones.
Poor dietary habits continue to plague America, and still contribute more than 13 percent to total deaths from cardiovascular disease, Harvard research shows. High blood pressure, smoking and low physical activity also play significant roles. A recent estimate found that less than 1 percent of Americans met four out of five goals of a healthy diet, and less than one in five were meeting the recommended two servings of fish per week. Salmon and peas on toast, anyone?
Are you getting your recommended two servings of fish weekly? You can reduce your risk of heart disease with this simple change to your diet. If getting the recommended amount of fish per week is difficult, consider a supplement containing EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acids or fortified foods to ensure you are getting enough of these vital nutrients.
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