February is Heart Month – a great time to not only pamper your loved ones but also to think about your cardiovascular (CVD) health.
According to a report by the American Heart Association, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and other government agencies,
“Rates of death attributable to CVD have declined in the United States, but the burden remains high.”
In 2013, CVD accounted for roughly 1 of every 3 deaths in the United States. Many factors play a role in CVD risk – one in particular being diet and nutrition. According to the same report,
“The leading risk factor for death and disability in the United States is suboptimal diet quality, which in 2010 led to 678,000 annual deaths attributable to all causes.”
Diet quality is truly a holistic concept and should consider one’s overall eating pattern versus focusing on individual foods or nutrients. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) say, “Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level,” and outlines what a healthy pattern includes:
- A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
- Fruits, especially whole fruits
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
According to the 2015 DGA, a healthy eating pattern should also limit saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. Additionally, they recommend that all Americans should engage in regular physical activity to help achieve or maintain a healthy body weight.
Adhering to advice put forth by not only the 2015 DGA but other health organizations like the American Heart Association and other government agencies, can potentially reduce your risk for heart disease and allow you to pamper your loved ones on Valentine’s Day for years and years to come.