As part of last week's health fair, local medical officials stressed the importance of a balanced diet and it's relationship to heart health.
"The road to heart health is paved with adventure, excitement and risks," pointed out literature provided by Castleview Hospital. "Mapping your own heart health eating plan will help direct you to your heart health goal."
The American Heart Association's diet and lifestyle recommendations are based on the latest advice of medical and nutrition experts.
By following the plan, the organization indicates that local residents can reduce three of the major risk factors for heart disease: high blood cholesterol, excess body weight and high blood pressure.
The AMA recommends a balanced calorie intake and physical activity to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. The same information is given to most patients by medical professionals.
"We tell people who struggle with heart problems the same thing - to diet and exercise," said Dr. Sterling Potter's certified nurses assistant Kerrie Sherman. "It's something that people have been told for years and nothing has changed. If you watch your sugar intake and maintain an exercise program you are going to have a better chance at having good heart health."
Sherman explained that "diet" did not mean crashing and binging, but maintaining a balanced intake that included the basic food groups.
The American Medical Association also recommends:
â¢Consuming a diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
â¢Choosing whole-grain, high-fiber foods.
â¢Consuming fish, especially oily fish, at least twice a week.
â¢Choosing a diet low in fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
â¢Minimizing the intake of beverages and foods with added sugar.
â¢Choosing to prepare foods with little or no salt.
â¢Consuming alcohol in moderation if at all.
To achieve a desirable cholesterol level the AMA recommends limiting the saturated fats, trans fats and dietary cholesterol in any diet.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and supplied in the diet through animal foods such as meat and dairy products. The body needs some cholesterol to insulate nerves, from cell membranes and make certain hormones.
Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to build-up in the arteries of the heart however, causing a persons risk factor for heart attack and stroke to increase.
There are two kinds of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. LDL is considered bad because is has a tendency to easily build on the walls of the heart's arteries.
HDL is consider the good type of cholesterol as it helps remove cholesterol from the same arteries.
According to the AMA literature, adding foods containing soluble fiber including foods and beverages made with soy protein and added plan sterols can help to achieve a healthy cholesterol level.
The AMA also recommends boning up on their latest version of the food pyramid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new formula is called "MyPyramid," it has six vertical strips detailing a balanced diet.
According to the literature, the change in the pyramid comes because one size does not fit all and different individuals need different amounts of certain food groups to maintain good health. For more information on discerning just what type of food intake would fit a certain person visit the USDA's pyramid site at www.MyPyramid.gov.
Lastly, the AMA recommends that those concerned about their heart and overall health measure their body mass index, which is a measure of weight compared to height.
According to information passed out at Castleview's Health Fair, men should target anywhere from 12 to 20 percent body fat, while women should shoot for between 18 and 25 percent.
It is interesting to note that nearly twice as many women in the U.S. die of heart disease and stroke as they do from all forms of cancer combined. However, the good news according to the AMA is that heart disease is largely preventable.
"We always encourage our patients," said Sherman when asked about individuals who struggle with maintaining a diet and exercise routine. "It up to them in the end because it's their life and their health but we are always encouraging toward our patients."
According to the AMA, it's encouragement for change that could save their lives.