Pixel Tracker

Monday, December 10 , 2018, 12:05 am | Fair 52º


Tracy Shawn: Healthy Choices to Help Nourish Your Heart

There are ways to mitigate the major risk factors for heart disease that are beyond our control

Within the past couple of months, two physically active men at my gym have nearly died from heart failure. One of them, a lean, athletic man in his early 40s, had no idea that what he thought was merely a bad case of heartburn was really the beginning of a massive heart attack.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The major risk factors that can’t be changed are increasing age, being a male, heredity and race.

Luckily, there are simple ways to beat the odds from these risks.

The American Heart Association website states: “A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease.” (Other “weapons” include not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, managing blood pressure and cholesterol, keeping blood sugar at healthy levels, reducing stress and limiting alcohol.)

Because a nutritionally sound diet affects these other controllable risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, it can further increase positive heart health.

Basically, a heart-healthy diet is one that is conducive for overall health — one that emphasizes daily intake of vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich foods, fish, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. Foods to limit and avoid include saturated fat (found in high-fat meats such as beef and pork, high-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, ice cream and butter, and added fats such as shortening and palm oil), trans fat (think cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, margarine, fried foods as well as animal products), and too much sodium (eat 1 to 2 grams of salt a day).

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are also specific foods that can lower cholesterol and, thus, further protect the heart. The soluble fiber in oats and other high-fiber foods reduces the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol because it reduces the absorption of LDL into the bloodstream.

The high levels of omega-3 in fatty fish (doctors recommend having at least two servings a week) reduce blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In fact, for people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden death. Fatty fish include mackerel, lake trout, herrings, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and halibut.

Lastly, unsalted walnuts, almonds and other nuts rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids help keep blood vessels healthy (try to eat more raw than roasted). The Food and Drug Administration states that eating just a handful of nuts a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.

So in dealing with major risk factors that are beyond your control, know that there are a number of healthy choices to help nourish your heart — that are in your control.

— Tracy Shawn, MA, “The Walk & Talk Weight Loss Coach”, is a certified nutrition and wellness consultant for men and women. She helps clients achieve their weight loss goals through individualized guidance and education. Click here to contact her.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >