Heart health: Managing heart disease through  diet


By Roberta Tolan

PREVIEW Columnist

As we move into shorter days, it is more challenging to be as physically active as we would like and the urge and opportunity to overeat seems to increase. But those who struggle with heart disease, need to be particularly mindful of maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet.

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease is a broad term for conditions that result in narrowed or blocked blood vessels that may lead to chest pain, heart attack or stroke.  Some heart disease occurs due to poor lifestyle choices including lack of physical activity, tobacco use or an unhealthy diet.  Risk factors such as age, gender and family history or other variables also play a role and an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity can lead to conditions that are often precursors to heart disease.

The following tips are general dietary recommendations for the prevention and management of heart disease.  Most importantly, one should attempt to maintain a healthy body weight by balancing caloric intake and physical activity.  These tips should be used alongside the American Heart Association general lifestyle recommendations for managing heart disease and the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

1. Consume a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole-grains.

Fruits and vegetables help to regulate appetite and various plant compounds found in these foods may have cholesterol-lowering properties.  For snacks, it is important to choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables without added salt and sugar instead of high caloric snack foods. These foods contain antioxidants, phytonutrients, plant stanols and fiber which research has shown can help to lower blood cholesterol levels and aid in healthy weight maintenance.

2. Limit the amount of saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol in the diet.

Healthy individuals without heart disease should limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total daily calories and those with heart disease, diabetes or high LDL cholesterol should limit intake of saturated fat to less than 7 percent. All individuals should limit trans fat to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. Recent research indicates that following the Mediterranean Diet (which includes plant-based fat sources such as nuts and olive oil that contain healthy unsaturated fats) can reduce cardiovascular disease events by up to 30 percent.

The following are tips to reduce saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in meats, dairy and recipes:

• Cut off all visible fat in meat and poultry.

• Thoroughly drain fat off of all cooked meats.

• Make stews broths and stocks a day ahead of time and refrigerate. Remove the hardened fat from the top before it is reheated or used in soups and other recipes.

• Baste with wine or tomato juice instead of drippings.

• Broil rather than pan-fry meats.

• Remove skin from chicken.

• Purchase lean or extra lean meats.

• Purchase white meat rather than dark.

• Flavor meat with herbs and spices instead of high-fat marinades.

• Choose 1 percent or nonfat milk instead of whole milk.

• Choose fat free yogurt.

• Use lower fat cheeses or limit portion sizes.

• Limit use of butter, margarine, and lard and replace with vegetable oil.

• In casseroles, use more vegetables and less meat.

• Be aware of fat content in sauces.

• Try cutting oil or fat in half when cooking on the stove top.

• Use low-fat alternatives such as nonfat yogurt or whipped topping made from skim milk instead of high fat condiments like sour cream, mayonnaise and whipping cream.

• Use two egg whites instead of one yolk.

3. Limit foods and beverages with added sugar.

Consumption of added sugars and sweeteners such as sucrose, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup has increased dramatically in the past few decades leading to an increase in total calories and weight gain in many individuals. Added sweeteners are present in most pre-packaged food items and processed beverages such as soda.  In order to maintain a healthy weight, one should reduce intake of foods and beverages with added sugar.

4. Choose foods with low salt content.

Sodium, a major component of salt, plays a crucial role in blood pressure regulation. Dietary guidelines suggest that reducing sodium intake may prevent and control high blood pressure by helping to lower blood pressure. A decreased sodium intake is also associated with reduced risk for congestive heart failure.  General guidelines for sodium intake for adults recommend no more than 2300 milligrams daily. Those who are African American, over the age of fifty, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should consume no more than 1500 milligrams of sodium per day.

This information was taken from the Colorado State University Extension Fact on Heart Health No. 9.384 found on the CSU Extension webpage at www.ext.colostate.edu  For more information on managing heart disease through diet including information on reading food labels, heart healthy food choices and examples of dietary patterns visit the above web site and download the Fact Sheet No. 9.384.

 CPR/First Aid 

CPR and First Aid Certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6-10 p.m. Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931.  We will also attempt to schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations.  Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/First Aid and $55 for CPR, First Aid or recertification. The type of first aid information provided will vary with the needs of participants.


Nov. 7 — Western Heritage meeting, 6 p.m.

Nov. 7 — Shady Pines 4-H Club meeting, 6 p.m.

Nov. 8 — Pagosa Peaks 4-H Club meeting, 2 p.m.

Nov. 11 — Veterans’ Day, Extension Office closed.

Nov. 11 — 4-H Livestock Committee meeting, 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 11 — CPR Training, 6 p.m.

Nov. 12 — 4-H Rocky Mountain Riders Club meeting, 6 p.m.

Nov. 12 — Farm Bureau meeting, 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 13 — First Aid Training, 6 p.m.

Nov. 14 — Mountain View Homemakers meeting, noon.

Nov. 15 — Wolf Creek Wonders 4-H Club meeting, 2 p.m.