A Toolkit to Help You Work on a Healthier Heart

October 14, 2016
Josh Running WEB

The heart disease facts are staggering and illustrate the serious threat heart disease poses. For example, almost 1/3 of adults in the US suffer from a form of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). CVD claims more lives than any other disease, including cancer, and 64% of women who died suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Taking charge of your heart health and preventing heart disease may be hard to do, but it’s not complex.

Here are the key steps to being heart healthy:

  • Get physical
  • Drink more water
  • Eat healthy and cut down on salt
  • Control cholesterol
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay positive
  • Track your progress 

This edition of the Health Toolkit is filled with information that will help you with each of these things so you and your family can live heart-healthy lives.

Healthy Fat for a Healthy Heart

By Ana Zeller, Wellness Nutritionist

For a healthy heart, reduce intake of fat from animal sources and increase healthy plant-based fats. Animal fat provides saturated fats and cholesterol, while plant fat provides unsaturated fat and NO cholesterol.
Think about this! One tablespoon of butter contains more than 7 grams of saturated fat - that’s more than a third of the recommended daily value. It also contains 10% of your daily value for dietary cholesterol. Switching to a plant-based margarine spread made with 100% olive oil will cut the cholesterol down to zero and replace the bad fat (saturated) with the healthy fats (unsaturated).

  • Go meatless for two meals a day: Using plant-based proteins such as nuts, peanut butter, sunflower nut butter, beans, edamame and tofu can create a serious cholesterol deficit in your day. Lean meats are a good alternative to red meats but still have up to 80 mg of cholesterol per serving. People with high cholesterol should have less than 200 mg/day.
  • Choose salad toppings wisely: For a healthier salad, skip the croutons and sprinkle walnuts on top instead. Walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fat and can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) while boosting your HDL (good cholesterol).
  • Use ground turkey in place of ground beef: Red meat is a source of both saturated fat and dietary cholesterol - two of the main sources of blood cholesterol. Ground turkey contains half the saturated fat of 85% lean ground beef, and it can be substituted easily for beef in most recipes.
  • Skip the fatty sour cream and choose fat free Greek yogurt: To cut out excess fat without sacrificing taste or texture, swap sour cream with fat free Greek yogurt.
  • Munch on popcorn instead of tortilla chips: Tortilla chips are often considered a healthy alternative to potato chips. They are certainly healthier, but an even better snack is homemade air-popped popcorn, which has 80% less saturated fat than tortilla chips and more than twice the fiber. You can also have a bigger portion (5 cups popped) for the same number of calories as seven tortilla chips.

    My Heart Healthy Fats and Oils Shopping List

     Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for cold salads and quick sautés)
     Safflower, sunflower or rice bran oil for high heat cooking
     100% Olive Oil Spread
     Avocados
     Unsalted nuts – almonds, brazil nuts, pecans
     Unsalted sunflower or pumpkin seeds (great on salads!)
     Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)

Advice of the Week

To prevent buildup of plaques in your arteries which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, follow The American Heart Association guidelines for fat intake. Saturated fat: less than 7% of your total daily calories or less than 14g of saturated fats if you follow a 2,000 calorie a day diet. Trans fat: less than 1% of your total daily calories or less than 2g of trans fat if you follow a 2,000 calorie a diet. Challenge of the Week Try two Heart Healthy recipes this week

Community Nutrition Resources

Try three Wilmington restaurants with healthy menus:
1. Epic Food Company, 1125 Military Cutoff Road
2. Lovey’s Natural Foods & Café, 1319 Military Cutoff Road
3. Clean Eatz, 203 Racine Drive and 5916 Carolina Beach Road *(Monkey Junction)

Follow Basics of the American College of Sports Medicine Cardiovascular Fitness Guidelines

By Jason Albertson, Employee Fitness Center Manager
There are three basic components: warm-up, conditioning stimulus and cool-down.
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Before and after you engage in continuous or intermittent activity, you need to warm up and cool down. This should be performed at about 50% of stimulus intensity - you should be able to hold a conversation without much difficulty) and be 5-15 minutes in duration depending on age & fitness level. Goal: Accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Note: intermittent activities have same the health benefits as continuous activities. Minimum Frequency: 3 days per week Intensity: 50-85% of heart rate maximum (220 - age x .50 to .85) or between 5 and 8 on your perceived exertion scale (see below)
Duration: 20-60 minutes per session, continuous or intermittent activity. If you are a beginner or de-conditioned, you may need to split it up into several 10-minute segments. Type: Aerobic like a brisk walk, swim, cross-country ski, dance, elliptical trainer, cycling, stationary bike, or aquatic class. Control: Stay within your heart rate range. Monitor through a heart rate monitor or manually at carotid artery on neck.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Image_014If you are not using a heart rate monitor, your RPE is an excellent way to monitor your exertion level since it typically coincides with heart rate. Decide on a scale from 1 (easiest) to 10 (hardest), where are you at that very moment? Note: Ten is intended to be the hardest thing you have ever done – like running from a bear in the woods where your heart rate is maximal and you’re ready to collapse with exhaustion. Typically, 5 or 6 is what you want to feel when you are exercising. Below that range you are not exerting enough, while over that you are exerting at a level you will not be able to continue for very long.
There are lots of ways to get your heart rate up. Here are a few that can be done at home:

  • Walking outside
  • Climbing stairs
  • Swimming or jogging in a pool
  • Riding a bike
  • Jumping rope
  • Using Treadmills or Elliptical Machines
  • Rowing
  • Taking an Exercise Class, such as Boxing or Zumba 


Advice of the Week

Progression of both intensity and duration in a single session is NOT recommended. Increase the duration first before increasing the intensity. If you can complete an exercise session at the upper level of frequency and duration for 2 weeks without signs of excessive fatigue, progress to the next level. If weight loss is your goal, frequent and enjoyable exercise periods of low to moderate intensity and relatively long duration result in the largest weekly caloric expenditures.

Challenge of the Week

Use a journal and track exercise this week – and to monitor your progress over time. Take notes on your RPE and specific conditions that affected how you feel, or what you were thinking.

Categories: Your Health
Topics: Heart Health


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