It’s Super Bowl season. You know what else it is? Heart Health Month. Weird. Those two don’t seem to be in sync. Here are some sobering stats for both “holidays.”
Super Bowl: It's the second biggest eating day of the YEAR (behind Thanksgiving). What are we consuming?
1.25 billion chicken wings
28 million pounds of potato chips
325 million gallons of beer
Heart Health Month: Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women.
We're not here to rain on your parade and say never eat any of the above foods again. The key is that these are “once in awhile” foods. In this article, sports nutritionist Chris Mohr explains how you can reduce your risk of heart disease (or any disease, for that matter) by making small, manageable changes with your diet and exercise. Small, simple dietary changes can make a large impact.
First, low fat is not the answer. There was a point where we all thought it was. When we’re looking at heart health specifically, some types of fat actually IMPROVE your health. Omega-3 fats, for example, can drastically reduce your risk of heart disease. There is certainly enough data suggesting everyone should be taking a high quality omega-3 product. Team Mohr all uses Nordic Naturals, including their two-year-old who asks daily for her “3s.”
The other switch to be made it switching from a primarily solid fat diet to a more “liquid” fat diet. Notice we didn’t say “add liquid fats to your current diet.” Olive oil is healthy. Canola oil is healthy. Flaxseed oil is healthy. WHEN these are substituted for less healthy fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter or shortening.
Step 1 is include healthier fats in the diet, particularly fish and fish oil.
Step 2. Replace fiber free carbs with higher fiber, quality carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are NOT bad. Fiber free junky carbohydrates are. Enjoy loads of high fiber veggies, have some fruit daily (particularly berries, which are super high fiber/low calorie) and include some grains.
Step 3. Reduce your portions. Even foods like pasta and bread, often demonized in the media, aren’t “bad.” The portions most people eat are. If you actually had a true serving of pasta, which is not the six to eight cups served at most Italian restaurants, you’d be fine.
Step 4. Exercise, obviously.
Step 5. Sleep more. Yes, this is JUST as important as eating well. Just as important as exercising.
Work on each of these five steps daily, and we can assure you that you will be a new person and heart health month will have a different meaning come 2013.
Dr. Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, is a consulting Sports Nutritionist for the Cincinnati Bengals and is the Sports Nutritionist for Under Armour's Training Council. He also consults for organizations such as Gatorade, The Dairy Council and Nordic Naturals. He is on the Advisory Board for Men's Fitness Magazine and has written over 500 articles for consumer publications from Men's Fitness, Weight Watchers to Men's Health and Shape. Dr. Mohr has Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Nutrition and a PhD in Exercise Physiology. As a leading authority on dietary supplements, he created the most comprehensive tool reviewing and helping sort through supplement confusion. Learn more at www.DietarySupplementU.com.