Blood pressure, lipids, BMI…I can’t seem to get these “lyrics” out of my head ever since I saw the Mayo Clinic’s music video “Know Your Numbers” featuring a parody of the 1982 hit song 567-5309/Jenny. This video marks the Mayo Clinic’s entrance into social media and their novel approach to spreading the word about preventing heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. However, many women are unaware of this. Having abnormal numbers for blood pressure, lipids, and body mass index (BMI) can be indicators of a risk for heart disease. The good news is you CAN do something about it; change your lifestyle.
Two lifestyle changes I want to mention go hand-in hand, exercise and diet. The recommendations for exercise are a minimum of 30 minutes daily for most days. Exercise can help you maintain your weight and can help you burn additional calories if you are in need of weight reduction. Already exercising for 30 minutes daily? You may want to consider adding a couple of days per week of resistance training. This type of exercise improves muscle tone and preserves lean muscle mass (important in keeping your metabolism high). Resistance exercise can also prevent age related loss of bone. If you are new to exercise, first check with you doctor. Walking is often the simplest exercise for those unaccustomed to physical activity. It’s always best to choose a physical activity you enjoy; it will be easier to stick with. Set aside time everyday for exercise by marking it in your calendar.
The second lifestyle change I want to mention is diet. I don’t like this word anymore than you do. It sounds boring, hard to stick with, and frankly…unappealing. When I use the word diet, I would prefer you to think of healthy food choices, food for building a strong body, or food for disease prevention.
The diet I would like to introduce to you is the DASH eating plan. This has been ranked as the #1 diet above the popular Mediterranean diet. DASH is actually an acronym for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”. DASH is recommended for those with elevated blood pressure, but its’ health benefits extend far beyond just the population with hypertension. As a matter of fact, DASH has been recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a healthy eating model for everyone. This plan is good for your heart as well as your waistline!
What is the DASH plan? This plan is rich in: potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber. It is unnecessary to track these nutrients if you choose foods wisely. Simply eat the foods you have always known to be wholesome (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/beans/seeds, lean protein such as poultry and seafood and low-fat/non-fat dairy) and steer clear of those you have known as not so healthy (calorie and fat laden sweeets and red meat). Last but not least, limit your salt intake.
Here is what a day’s menu on the DASH diet might look like:
3/4-cup unsweetened cold cereal
1-cup nonfat milk
1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 T peanut butter ( freshly ground)
1- cup nonfat milk
Sandwich made with 2 slices whole wheat bread, 2 oz. lean ham (95% fat free) and 1 oz. low fat mozzarella cheese, 2 slices of tomato, leaf of romaine lettuce, mustard, 1 T low-fat mayonnaise
Yogurt parfait made with 6 oz. light nonfat vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup blueberries and 1 T chopped walnuts (unsalted)
3 oz. grilled salmon
1/2-cup brown rice
1- cup steamed broccoli
Salad made with 1-cup romaine lettuce, 1/4-cup grated carrots, 2 slices of onion, 2 radishes, 3 slices of tomato, 1T vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup seedless grapes