According to the American Heart Association, heart disease accounts for 1 of every 7 deaths in the United States and approximately 92.1 million Americans currently live with some type of cardiovascular disease or after-effects of stroke. Extensive research has confirmed that a heart healthy diet plan and lifestyle lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and certain cancers. To help kick off your heart healthy diet plan, consider switching to a primarily plant based and whole grain diet by limiting red meat, eating fish at least once a week, choosing low fat dairy products, cutting out refined carbs and sugar and limiting unhealthy fats. Additionally, watch your sodium intake – the AHA diet plan recommends limiting daily sodium to 1,500 mg for a healthy adult. Switching out salt for herbs and spices is an easy way to add flavor to your food without eating excess salt. If you need guidance, the Mediterranean or DASH diets are consistently found to be the healthiest diets for overall health and the diets we recommend at NutriFit. Nutrition is just one part of the equation – regular exercise is also an important factor in preventing heart disease. Check out the following info graphic with recommendations for physical activity from the AHA.
Good nutrition is not only the key to a healthy body but also a healthy brain! For example, a well balanced Mediterranean diet (like we provide at NutriFit) has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease and dementia. It can also reduce homocysteine levels, a risk factor for age-associated cognitive decline. Leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale & romaine lettuce) are high in folate and B vitamins which can affect brain function, mood and metabolism. Studies have shown that people who ate at least one portion of leafy vegetables per day had a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who did not. Additionally, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc) have been shown to decrease risk of stroke by decreasing plaque build up and inflammation in the brain. Polyphenols found in citrus fruits, blueberries, onion, parsley, apples, kiwi (and more) have been associated with promoting memory and learning, reducing brain inflammation and decreasing the risk for dementia. Along with proper nutrition, exercise is also an important factor in maximizing your brain health. Studies have shown that the combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise can decrease the negative effects of a high fat diet. Resistance training improves cognition as well as muscle strength and bone density which are especially important to focus on as you age.