18February is known for Valentine’s Day, but it is also a month for heart health awareness.

In the U.S., heart disease ends in mortality approximately every 40 seconds. In 2022 there were more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests nearly 90% percent of which were fatal.
The leading factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and low density cholesterol or LDL, which is known as the bad cholesterol that builds up plaque in our coronary arteries.

There is a second type of cholesterol known as the good cholesterol, HDL, that assists in cleaning out the bad cholesterol and keeping the arteries balanced.
Cholesterol is a fatty wax substance produced in our liver and found in certain foods. It is important in building cells, making hormones, and an important contributor to making vitamin D. When you eat too much food containing cholesterol, trans fats, and saturated fats the liver begins to make more cholesterol than it needs and begins to clog our arteries

When we flip over the package and read 0% cholesterol, we may think that is okay if we eat this bag of chips. But read on to see the amount of fat, sugar and salt contained.
Fat falls into the category of trans and saturated fat. Trans fat has been mostly eliminated in foods, but saturated fat is still present in many of the foods that we eat.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and they come in the form of butter, cheese, coconut oils and red meat with a high amount of saturated fat.

A recent challenge that involved a 5k with a leading doughnut maker encouraged the participants to eat a dozen doughnuts in the mid part of the race and then finish. One of these doughnuts has no cholesterol but out of 190 calories that person consuming a dozen doughnuts has consumed 2,280 calories with 132 grams of fat and 60 grams of saturated. The recommended allowance per day for fat intake in a 2,000-calorie diet is less than 65 grams of fat and less than 20 grams of saturated fat. Although it may be an isolated incident, the amount of fat that we eat each day mounts up.

We are not always what we eat but the question is who, how and why we are at risk for potential heart disease. Genetics may be one of the reasons we may have an inherited risk for heart disease if we have parents or siblings who have had heart disease. Men fall into the category of age younger than 55 and women 65 with genetic cholesterol issues.

Factors that increase the risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and metabolic syndrome are diabetes, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and our diet.
We cannot do anything about our genetics but we can be aware of our diet and what foods can increase our risk of heart disease since sugar, salt and fat are part of the everyday American diet, especially in processed food.

Healthy comes in all sizes but a large amount of weight gain results in visceral fat around your organs which results in an increased effort for your body to keep up, putting strain on your heart which can result in heart disease.

Live, love life and be healthy.

 

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