Hearts are a hot topic in February and can be found everywhere, from your clinic to your local grocery store. Today many celebrate Valentine’s Day, a day full of heart shaped messages, “conversation hearts” and more. Throughout the month, you may also be continuing the heart (health) conversations through presentations, events and fairs in your community or clinics to celebrate American Heart Month.
American Heart Month brings awareness to the important issue of heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four deaths in the United States each year are attributable to heart disease.1 Although this statistic is staggering, health professionals can play a role in motivating their clients to choose healthy habits that may lessen the risk of developing heart conditions including cardiovascular disease. In fact, many heart disease risk factors are modifiable lifestyle choices, and behavioral adjustments related to diet, physical activity and smoking.
Heart healthy conversations focus on nutrition as one of the modifiable risk factors. While health professionals are familiar with heart-healthy diets, some uncertainty still exists regarding the effects of foods containing dietary cholesterol like eggs on heart health. The great news is that more than 40 years of research demonstrates that healthy adults can enjoy eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease.2 In fact, a recently conducted meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no association between egg consumption and risk for cardiovascular disease.3 Research has also shown that egg consumption does not significantly impact the LDL:HDL ratio – a marker that has been shown to be a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.4
You, as a health practitioner, can help debunk myths regarding dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease by encouraging a total diet approach and guiding clients towards heart-healthy choices by recommending fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low- fat dairy and nutrient-rich sources of high-quality protein.
We’re interesting in hearing what heart-healthy conversations you are having on Valentine’s Day and during Heart Health Month. Comment below!