Balanced Lifestyle

Despite what seems to be growing attention on health and wellness over the past decade, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S., with the overall risk of heart attack and stroke on the rise in recent years. And while there may be stereotypes associated with poor heart health, the truth is that many risk markers are not visible to the naked eye, stressing the importance of heart health awareness for everyone.

That was the case for Dennis, 53, who suffered a heart attack last year despite being at a healthy weight. Dennis sought help from registered dietitian Jim White of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, which offers nutrition counseling, medical nutrition therapy and personal training. A year after his heart attack, Dennis was able to lower his blood pressure and cholesterol, and even stop taking various heart medications he’d been previously prescribed.

How did he do it? White works with people like Dennis to not only increase physical activity but offer tips for heart-healthy eating, putting an emphasis on plant-based foods, lean proteins and sources of good fat like walnuts and olive oil. The heart health benefits of walnuts, for example, are supported by decades of research in their role in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.*

Here are simple tips from Jim White, RD, on eating for heart health, as well as simple actions everyone should take to improve their overall well-being.

  • Move more. You don’t have to run marathons to keep your heart in shape. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity (like a brisk walk!) 5 days a week.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. This eating style can still be inclusive and delicious! The American Heart Association recommends an eating pattern that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and nuts and legumes. Explore our heart-healthy recipe collection to see for yourself.
  • Learn your risk. As much as diet and exercise can help mitigate your risk, your personal health history and family history can also factor in, so it’s best to keep your doctor aware of any potential risk factors.
*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. (FDA) One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.
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