The Wellness Word
HEART HEALTH MONTH
* Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2015 were men.
* About 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
* In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
* Heart disease costs the United States about $200 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key heart disease risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including: diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
HOW MUCH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY DO ADULTS NEED?
According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, you need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health–aerobic and muscle-strengthening.
Aerobic activity – what counts?
Aerobic activity or "cardio" gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to biking to the store – all types of activities count. As long as you're doing them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.
How do you know if you're doing light, moderate, or vigorous intensity aerobic activities?
For most people, light daily activities such as shopping, cooking, or doing the laundry doesn't count toward the guidelines. Why? Your body isn't working hard enough to get your heart rate up.
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song. Here are some examples of activities that require moderate effort:
- Walking fast
- Doing water aerobics
- Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
- Playing doubles tennis
- Pushing a lawn mower
Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Here are some examples of activities that require vigorous effort:
- Jogging or running
- Swimming laps
- Riding a bike fast or on hills
- Playing singles tennis
- Playing basketball
Build Up Over Time: If you want to do more vigorous-level activities, slowly replace those that take moderate effort like brisk walking, with more vigorous activities like jogging.
Muscle-strengthening activities – what counts?
Besides aerobic activity, you need to do things to strengthen your muscles at least 2 days a week. These activities should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities need to be done to the point where it's hard for you to do another repetition without help. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. Try to do 8—12 repetitions per activity that count as 1 set. Try to do at least 1 set of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 2 or 3 sets.
You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same or different days that you do aerobic activity, whatever works best. Just keep in mind that muscle-strengthening activities don't count toward your aerobic activity total.
There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or the gym. You may want to try the following:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (i.e., push ups, sit ups)
- Heavy gardening (i.e., digging, shoveling)
FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH MONTH
Make a difference in your community by spreading the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encouraging those around you to have their hearts checked and commit to heart-healthy lives.
BEST FOODS FOR THE HEART
Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties—which contain more fiber—and top your bowl off with a banana for another 4 grams of fiber.
Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third. "Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant," says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks. But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals. Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost!
Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to up the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body.
Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties—they're the least processed—and use them instead of butter when cooking.
Walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids and, along with almonds and macadamia nuts, are loaded with mono- and polyunsaturated fat. Plus, nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra. "And like olive oil, they are a great source of healthy fat."
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries—whatever berry you like best—are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. "Blackberries and blueberries are especially great," says Sinatra. "But all berries are great for your vascular health."
Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, and black and kidney beans. They're packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and soluble fiber.
Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber. But upping your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost. The Physicians' Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least two-and-a-half servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25%, compared with those who didn't eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17%.
Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.
Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it's still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet. Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.
"Zoodles" or zucchini noodles, are a fresh and lower carbohydrate alternative to pasta noodles. This savory recipe pairs them with a creamy, dairy-free avocado Alfredo sauce for a healthy meal for all ages.
To prepare, you'll need:
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 15-20 peeled, raw, medium shrimp (rinsed, patted dry)
- 2 to 3 medium to large unpeeled zucchini, ends trimmed
- 1 medium avocado (peeled, pitted, cut)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the shrimp for about 4 minutes, or until pink on the outside, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl. Cover to keep warm. Wipe the skillet with paper towels.
- Put the zucchini on a cutting board. Using a spiralizer, or something similar, make zoodles from the zucchini.
- In the same skillet, still over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil, swirling to coat the bottom. Put the zoodles in the skillet.
- In a food processor, process the avocado, basil, lemon juice, and garlic until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Stir the sauce into the zoodles. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the zoodles are tender and the sauce is heated through, stirring occasionally. Stir in the shrimp. Cook for 1 minute.
Nutrition Information: per serving
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Sat. Fat: 3.0 g
Sodium: 108 mg
Instead of eating your breakfast fruit separately from your toast, try having it on top! This unique toast is topped with the tartness of grapefruit and pomegranate arils, the smoothness of avocado, and the tanginess of feta cheese.
To prepare, you'll need:
- 1 1/2 medium avocados (halved, pitted, diced)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1/16 teaspoon salt
- 4 slices whole-wheat bread
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 cup ruby red grapefruit segments (sliced)
- 1/4 cup fat-free feta cheese - optional
- Put the avocados, lime juice, and salt in a small bowl. Using a fork, gently mash the avocados, stirring to combine with the lime juice and salt.
- Spread the avocado mixture over each slice of bread. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds. Top with the grapefruit. Sprinkle with the feta cheese, if desired.
Nutrition Information: per serving
Serving size: 1 toast
Sat. Fat: 2.0 g
Sodium: 154 mg
Avocado toast is a quick, portable, and nutritious breakfast. Experiment with other healthy toppings such as sliced radishes, mashed hard-boiled eggs, roasted tomatoes, and cucumber slices.
For more recipes, visit: https://recipes.heart.org
WHICH IS BETTER: COOKED OR RAW?
CARROTS: You know carrots are good for your eyes, but do you know why? It's a compound called beta-carotene, which gives carrots their deep orange hue. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body, which is essential for things like good vision (along with immune health and healthy skin). In 2002, researchers found that cooking carrots actually increases the amount of beta-carotene your body is able to absorb.
TOMATOES: Tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup—chances are that you eat plenty of cooked tomatoes. But if you don't, now would be a good time to start. If you're limiting yourself to fresh tomatoes, then you're only getting about 4% of the powerful antioxidant lycopene that this veggie-like fruit has to offer, according to research published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. That's because raw tomatoes have thick cellular walls that make it difficult for our bodies to absorb lycopene. Once they're cooked, however, the lycopene becomes much easier for our bodies to utilize, says Wendy Bazilian, RD, coauthor of Eat Clean, Stay Lean.
SPINACH: When Popeye swallowed a can of spinach, what was it that made his muscles bulge? If you're thinking "iron," then you might be right. But it could also be folate—a B vitamin essential for cell growth and reproductive health that's found in dark leafy greens. While cooking spinach doesn't increase folate levels, a 2002 study found that steaming spinach keeps folate levels constant. Why is that good? "A whole bunch of spinach wilts down to just a little bit," Wendy Bazilian says. "So you're going to eat a lot more of it after it's cooked." And thus, consume more folate as a result.
ASPARAGUS: These green stalks are super high in cancer-fighting vitamins like A, C, and E, as well as folate. But the thick cell walls make it hard for our body to absorb these healthy nutrients. Cooking asparagus breaks down its fibrous cells so that we can absorb more of the vitamins.
PUMPKIN: We know—eating raw pumpkin isn't exactly normal. And that's a good thing, since cooked squash is incredibly more nutritious than raw (including other kinds of squash like zucchini and acorn), says Bazilian. Pumpkin, like carrots, is rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene, which are much easier to absorb once it has been heated. "Something like a can of cooked pumpkin puree is off the charts in terms of nutrition," says Bazillian.
STAFF SPOTLIGHT: ALYSSA BREHL
Thanks for sharing, Alyssa!
EAT BREAKFAST TO IMPROVE YOUR HEART HEALTH
(2013) A study appears to confirm that when you eat is just as important for health as what and how much you eat.
US researchers asked men to complete questionnaires about what they ate and when they ate it, then tracked their health for 16 years. Those who said they skipped breakfast were found to have a higher risk of heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease. Lead author Leah Cahill, of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and colleagues, write about their findings in a July 23rd issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation. In a statement, Leah Cahill, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of nutrition at HSPH, explains what may lie behind the findings:
"Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time."
For their study the researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaires completed by 26,902 male health professionals aged between 45 and 82 years and tracked their health for 16 years from 1992 to 2008. The men were free of heart disease and cancer at the start of the study. Over the follow-up, 1,572 men experienced non-fatal heart attacks or died of coronary heart disease. When they analyzed the data the researchers found men who said they did not have breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than men who said they ate breakfast.
The men who said they skipped breakfast tended to be younger, single, smokers, who worked full time, did not do much exercise and drank more alcohol. The researchers also found when they adjusted the results to take out the effect of body mass index, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, the links between skipping breakfast and higher risk for heart attack or death from coronary heart disease became much weaker: they were no longer statistically significant. They note this suggests "eating habits may affect risk of coronary heart disease through pathways associated with these traditional risk factors." They also found no links between how many times a day the men said they ate and risk of coronary heart disease.
They did find a link, however, between eating late at night and coronary heart disease. Compared with men who said they did not eat late at night, among those who did, there was a 55% higher risk of coronary heart disease. But the authors note that, judging by the few men in the study who ate late at night, this was unlikely to be a major public health concern. Leah Cahill says the message from the study, which reinforces previous research, is: "Don't skip breakfast." Eating a healthy meal at the start of the day is linked to lower risk of heart attacks.
Incorporate many types of healthy foods into your breakfast, Leah Cahill advises - as this is "an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals."
If eating a bowl of cereal, try adding nuts and chopped fruit, or steel-cut oatmeal. This is a "great way to start the day," Leah Cahill adds.
Senior author Eric Rimm, associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, says the team has spent decades looking at the effects of quality and composition of diet on health, and now this new study suggests overall dietary habits should also be considered in lowering risk of heart disease.
At a conference in 2012, UK scientists presented a study that explained why people who skip breakfast tend to find high calorie food more appealing later in the day: their brain circuits may be primed toward seeking it when fasting.
BEST & WORST EXERCISES FOR YOUR HEART
- Interval training: This is unrivaled for preventing heart disease and diabetes, losing weight, and efficiently improving fitness. The strategy: combine short bursts of high-intensity exercise with slightly longer periods of active recovery. So if you're a walker, you might alternate 3 minutes at normal speed with 1 minute at a brisk pace. Continuously raising and lowering your heart rate improves vascular function, burns calories, and makes the body more efficient at clearing fat and sugar from the blood.
- Total-body, nonimpact sports: The more muscles involved in an activity, the harder your heart must work to fuel them all - thus, it grows stronger itself. Rowing, swimming, cross-country skiing, walking with poles...all recruit muscles throughout the body without beating it up. Add some intervals and you have the ideal workout.
- Weight training: In a sense, this is just another form of interval training. You increase your heart rate during reps and recover between sets. By efficiently handling the demands placed upon them, strong muscles ease the overall burden on the heart. Use free weights, which recruit more muscles, engage your core, and build balance.
- Core workouts: In order to exercise vigorously, you need a solid foundation. Activities such as Pilates strengthen the core muscles and improve flexibility and balance.
- Yoga: The calm it provides lowers blood pressure, making blood vessels more elastic and promoting heart health, while also strengthening your core.
- Active - all day: People who are active in little ways the entire day (cleaning, running errands, etc.) burn more calories and are generally healthier than those who exercise for 30 - 60 minutes and then sit at a computer. Wear a pedometer to measure how active you are outside of your exercise time.
- Running long-distance, on pavement: Although running this way strengthens the heart, it wears out the body. Various aches and pains added to numerous injuries makes this exercise undesirable.
- Vigorous exercise - you haven't trained for: This can range from shoveling snow to biking 20 miles. The excessive adrenaline that's released can prompt a heart attack in those at risk. For the same reason, never exercise hard without warming up.
Don't let science dictate your exercise. Research may show swimming is the absolute best, but if you don't enjoy it, don't torture yourself. Find something fun that you'll do consistently!
EVENTS THIS MONTH
Monday, Feb. 5th, 6-6:45pm
406 South Walnut Street
Can't go on the 5th? This event occurs every Monday at the same time!
For more information, please visit: https://www.meditationinbloomington.org/
The cost is $5.
WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Sunday, Feb. 18th, 3pm
114 East Kirkwood Avenue
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is based on a beloved children’s classic by Roald Dahl. In 1972, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score and Gene Wilder was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. The film also introduced the song "The Candy Man", which became a popular hit when recorded by Sammy Davis Jr. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". This film is presented in conjunction with LifeDesigns Week of Chocolate.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes
For more information, please visit: https://www.bctboxoffice.org/event/willy-wonka-chocolate-factory/
The cost is $5.
WALK THE TALK SPEAKER SERIES: CREATING HAPPINESS
Wednesday, Feb. 21st, 7-9:30pm
114 East Kirkwood Avenue
For more information, please visit: walkthetalkseries.com/event/walk-the-talk-speaker-series-creating-happiness/
The cost is $15 - children 11 & under are free.
UNIQUE SOUPS AND DATE BREAD COOKING CLASS
Saturday, Feb. 24th, 10am-12pm
122 South Walnut Street
To register, please visit: www.ivytech.edu/bloomington/cll - registration closes February 18th
The cost is $59