Ideas for better heart health for Tahoe-Truckee children, adults | SierraSun.com

Ideas for better heart health for Tahoe-Truckee children, adults

Jill Whisler
Special to the sun

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — February is National Heart Month. Fact: Fewer than 30 percent of high school students get enough physical activity each day to keep their hearts healthy.

It's clear that children, teens and adults who are physically active have healthier bodies and minds than people who aren't.

Regular physical activity keeps your heart healthy and strong and it helps you build healthy muscles, bones and joints, according to http://www.heart.org.

The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity every day.

Examples of moderate activity include bike riding, swimming and brisk walking. Vigorous activities include jogging, soccer, aerobics or dancing.

If your workout makes you breathe harder and sweat, you're helping your heart stay healthy.

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HOW DO I EAT TO PROTECT MY HEART?

Look for foods and drinks that are good for your heart: They should be low in salt and added sugars, and limited in the types of fat that harm your heart. If you eat calories from foods that have unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) or foods that are high in added sugars and sodium, you could be hurting your heart.

Learn to read Nutrition Facts labels: A serving is the amount of food or beverage the label describes. You should usually eat one serving during a single meal or snack. The label will also tell you how many servings are in the package. If the label says there are two servings in the package, eat half or share it with a friend. The best heart health idea is eat food that has no labels — fruit and vegetables.

Limit foods that have high amounts of certain nutrients: If the label says the food has lots of unhealthy fats (like saturated and trans fats) try a healthier option. Limit foods that are high in sodium and sugar, or are higher in calories than similar foods or beverages. Compare labels on different foods to find the best option.

MEATLESS DIET AN IDEA TO PURSUE

In California, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has started Meatless Mondays. Meatless Monday is an easy, effective and affordable way to boost nutrition and start kids on a lifetime of heart-healthy eating habits.

This is a great challenge, and we would love to see it implemented in your home. Studies show that eating more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains helps to protect against cardiovascular disease.

The American Cancer Society suggests limiting red meat to twice a week. Research also suggests that consuming more fruits and vegetables and less processed meat reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, and people on plant-based diets tend to have a significantly lower body weight and body mass index.

Further, producing one pound of beef requires 1,850 gallons of water, whereas growing 1 pound of vegetables requires 39 gallons of water.

Eating less meat also means you'll reduce your carbon footprint. Beef generates 30 kilograms of greenhouse gas per kilogram of food; whereas, carrots, potatoes, and rice generate .42, .45, and 1.3 kilograms respectively, per kilogram of food.

If the world ate 15 percent less meat (roughly one day of abstaining,) it would be like taking 240 million cars off the road each year. For more information, visit meatlessmonday.org.

Jill Whisler, MS, RD, is part of Tahoe Forest Health System's Wellness Neighborhood team promoting "Rethink Healthy." For information on heart health, contact Jill at jwhisler@tfhd.com.

Healthy eating tips

• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

• Choose whole-grain foods which can be a good source of dietary fiber.

• Eat fish, especially oily fish, (for example salmon, trout, herring) at least twice a week.

• Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats.

• Limit the amount of red meat you eat and choose lean meats and poultry. There are also many meat-free alternatives to get protein.

• Select fat-free or 1 percent-fat dairy products.

• Limit your intake of beverages and foods with added sugars.

• Try for <350 mg or less of sodium per serving.

• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Source: Tahoe Forest Health System