Jefferson University Hospitals

Heart Health Tips

Secrets to a Heart Healthy Diet – From Cardiologist Danielle Duffy, MD

  • Fruits and vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber and minerals.
  • Fruit and veggies make great snacks.
  • Whole grains are a great source of fiber.
  • Choose low-fat protein such as fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and lean meat and poultry without skin prepared by baking, broiling or grilling.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products.
  • Beans, peas, lentils and other legumes are great sources of protein that are low in fat and have no cholesterol.
  • Watch what you drink.
  • Watch your salt intake, which can impact your blood pressure. A couple things you can do to protect against excessive salt consumption are to remove the salt shaker from your table and substitute fresh herbs, garlic and onions for flavor when you cook.
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20 Easy Weight Loss Tips for a Healthier You

Emily Rubin, RD, Clinical Dietitian in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, shares easy weight loss tips for a healthier you in the New Year. Here are just a few:

  • Think of it as a lifestyle change to feel better, not a diet
  • Set realistic weight goals, don’t try to be your high school or college weight
  • Always have healthy foods on hand at home
  • Avoid fad diets; use a reputable program like Weight Watchers
  • Write it down or use weight loss apps – people who keep track of what they eat lose twice as much weight
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day
  • Don’t deprive yourself

Learn more about these tips and over a dozen more to help make a healthier you.

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15 Tips for Workout Success – From Philadelphia Eagles Strength and Conditioning Coach Josh Hingst

Need to jump-start your routine? These tips will help you fly on the road to victory.

Start By Starting. In order to get going on the path you choose is to decide that it is time to start. Getting started can be hard, but once you start, continuing on is usually much easier. Start now.

Have a Routine. The best way to make sure you continue on your path is to make it a part of your day. If you are always trying to "find time" to work out or exercise, you may never be able to. But if you make it a part of your daily schedule, you have no reason not to do it.

Set Goals. What do you want out of this exercise program? And how will you know when you get there if you do not establish benchmarks for you to reach along the way?

Have a Plan. Sit down and write out a clear plan of attack, it will be much easier to follow if you have it written out. How many weeks in a row would you like to work? How many days a week? How many days off? What to do each day? Know what your plan is.

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Jefferson Experts: What Works for Getting to and Maintaining A Healthy Weight?

According to a 2005 study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, the average person makes over 200 food choices a day.

  • Always eat with a table, chair, and plate
  • Use smaller plates, bowls, and serving utensils
  • Serve from the stove, as opposed to family-style, except for vegetables and salads
  • Put food away in cabinets instead of leaving items on the counter in view
  • Review the menu before eating out and decide what to order before arriving at a restaurant
  • Split an entrée when eating out
  • Talk to you doctor about a meal replacement program, which helps with calorie and portion control as well as simplifying food choices

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Staying Heart Healthy at Any Age – From Cardiologist Matthew DeCaro, MD, & Nutritionist Susan Emery

Whether you're in your 20s and aren't thinking twice about heart disease or in your 60s and are only too well aware that heart disease can change your life, there is important information you should know to protect your heart.

In your 30s …

Exercise! You may be starting a family and have increasing work responsibilities – but don't neglect your health. You still see yourself as being young, so health issues are a low priority. This is a pivotal time, though. Establishing healthful habits now will avoid so many problems down the line.

To assure maintenance of bone density, you need to think about maintaining proper intake of calcium and vitamin D.

In your 40s …

You may first start to see signs of those middle-aged bulges. It's important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and activity. Vary your vegetables by eating more dark-green leafy vegetables, orange and red vegetables; these assure adequate intake of important antioxidants and lycopenes to fight oxidative damage to your cells.

Women may begin to detect signs of menopause such as hot flashes. Maintain adequate calcium intake, avoid excessive caffeine intake and drink lots of water to maintain proper hydration.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver that is also found in animal foods such as red meat and whole milk dairy products, which are usually high in fat as well (plant sources do not contain cholesterol). Your body uses cholesterol to build cell walls and other necessary tissues. High-fat diets stimulate the liver to produce excessive cholesterol. You can accumulate too much cholesterol in your blood as a result of the amount your body manufactures normally and in response to a fat-laden diet. That is when trouble occurs in the form of cardiovascular disease.

How often should cholesterol be checked?

A high cholesterol level produces no warning symptoms, so it makes sense to test periodically. The American Heart Association recommends a lipid profile by age 20 or earlier in some cases. If your levels are acceptable, return to your doctor every five years for subsequent checks until age 45; after that, screenings should be scheduled every three years.

Before menopause, some degree of protection is afforded to most women, but they should still be tested. After menopause, all women should have their cholesterol measured every three to five years.

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What causes high blood pressure?

It's rare to pinpoint a specific cause of high blood pressure. However, doctors do know that hypertension runs in families, and that a lack of exercise, too much stress, being overweight, and smoking and/or drinking heavily contribute to and even worsen hypertension. African Americans have a higher rate of hypertension and tend to have more severe hypertension than Caucasians, but it's not yet known why this occurs. It's suspected that genes and diet play some role, though. Certain medical problems, such as sleep apnea and chronic kidney disease, may cause blood pressure to rise, and some medicines can raise your blood pressure.

Does sodium cause high blood pressure?

Although salt restriction may reduce the blood pressure of some hypertensive people, sodium itself does not cause hypertension. However, most Americans consume too much salt and excess sodium can lead to fluid retention. More fluid in the body raises the total volume of blood flowing through your system - the higher the volume, the higher your blood pressure.

Cardiologists typically recommend low-sodium diets for those with hypertension or with a family history of the disease because, in many people, blood pressure falls significantly if salt intake is restricted. These people are "salt sensitive," meaning their blood pressure rises when they ingest large amounts of sodium, and drops when they reduce sodium intake.

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Why is exercise good for my heart? Why is that important?

Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body. Regular aerobic activities strengthen your heart by making it work harder. At the same time, they increase your body's ability to use energy-giving oxygen. Since heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country, building cardiovascular endurance should be a priority in every woman's fitness program. Aerobic exercises are the most efficient way to do this.

Remember, though, that for effective conditioning, you must choose activities that elevate your heart rate and keep it elevated for a period of at least 20 minutes straight, three times a week. Stopping and starting in the middle of your exercise is not as effective. However, it's okay to start slowly and, as the days and weeks go by, progress up to at least 20 minutes. Also, every exercise session should include a proper warm-up and cool-down with stretching.

I've been exercising, but why am I not losing weight?

A balanced, low-fat diet with the appropriate number of calories, combined with a sustained exercise program, is the best way to lose weight. If you exercise regularly without cutting calories or fat grams, you will lose weight more slowly. However, you should still notice a change in your body as your muscles become firmer.

As you progress in your exercise program, your body replaces fat cells with muscle, which weighs more. Thus, you may begin to look more slender even before a change shows up on the scale. As you continue to exercise, you will lose weight.

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Make an Appointment with a Cardiologist

Want to know your risk factors for heart disease or get a routine screening? Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) to make an appointment or schedule online below.