A new year brings new hopes for healthier lifestyles, tighter waistlines and lighter diets. Each year I review some simple resolutions and fun advice for staying heart healthy for the holidays and throughout the new year — this year, I chose 12 tips for 2012:
- Start right: Begin each day with a good breakfast, including dairy, fiber and fruit. Choose items such as whole grain toast, low or fat-free milk, bananas, pears and high-fiber oatmeal with nuts and berries.
- Walk this way: Walk at lunch with coworkers, before or after work with your pets, join in team sports or find an outlet that gets your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes a day. Take the stairs, park further away, buy a push lawn mower and enjoy the great outdoors.
- Cholesterol management: Get an expanded test that tells you and your doctor about the dangerous cholesterol — directly measured LDL, non-HDL, apoB and subparticles — that can hurt your arteries. The Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) lipid test from Atherotech is one such test.
- Fiber is your friend: Read the nutrition label on foods so you know what you’re eating and to better manage your cholesterol, fiber and other nutrients. Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day.
- Glucose in moderation: Too much sugar and starch contribute to diabetes. Get tested for diabetes with a blood glucose test, and cut back on pasta, potatoes, sodas, ice cream and fast food.
- Red red wine: Did you know the 1984 hit “Red Red Wine” from pop-reggae band UB40 was originally written and first recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967? Did you know that red wine and dark beer contain more flavonoids (protective antioxidants) than other alcoholic beverages? You can have up to 1 ounce of undiluted alcohol daily, the equivalent of two 4-ounce glasses of wine, a 12-ounce bottle of beer or two shots of spirits.
- Dark dark chocolate: Cocoa and chocolate products have the highest concentration of flavonoids among commonly consumed foods. Dark chocolate with high cocoa content is best for heart healthy benefit.
- Think Mediterranean: Even if you can’t vacation here, you can eat as if you are. This diet is high in fiber, “earth-healthy” carbs, whole grains, beans, fruits, veggies, eggs, nuts, cheese, olive oil, avocadoes and fish.
- All things in moderation: Red meat is OK when eaten in moderation — once per week. When it comes to fish and poultry, feel free to invite them to dinner at least twice a week.
- Healthy lifestyle: Lead a healthy lifestyle, which means no smoking, seeing your clinician every year for a physical and expanded cholesterol test, and laughing often. Spend time with friends, kids and grandkids.
- Don’t stress out: Blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to blockages, blood clots and hardened, weakened arteries and is a major risk factor for heart disease. Getting your blood pressure checked out is a great way to better understand your heart disease risk to stay heart healthy all year long.
- Enjoy life: Use your imagination to enjoy life and get the most out of each and every day. Have fun, do what you love and do what makes you happy.
Wishing all my readers happy holidays and a new year full of good health!