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St. E. Healthy Headlines: Pay attention to your heart health during the busy holidays

St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Heart health should always be a priority, but it’s especially important during the busy holiday season.

It’s no secret that during the holidays, some of us tend to eat too much, eat unhealthily, and drink more alcohol than we normally would. At the same time, with all the hustle and bustle, we’re getting less sleep, we’re not sticking to our exercise routines and we have increased stress levels. This combination is not healthy for our hearts.

“I love the holiday season and I find myself overindulging at times. It’s easy to do,” says Dr. Erica Pivato, Cardiologist at Florence Wormald Heart and Vascular Institute. “To help me stay on track, I always remind myself to keep everything in moderation.”

Heart Healthy Foods

There are certain foods that can help prevent heart disease by lowering the risk factors associated with heart disease such as high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. Check out the suggestions below and incorporate them into your next grocery shopping trip:

• Lower your cholesterol – foods containing dietary fiber such as whole grains, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, and kidney beans can help regulate your blood sugars and lower your LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

• Reduce your blood pressure – foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce your blood pressure. Additional benefits include lowering the risk of developing blood clots and lowering the risk of heart attacks. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish such as mackerel, albacore tuna, salmon, and halibut.

• Strengthen your blood vessels – most nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pecans are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which helps strengthen blood vessels. A handful (about 1.5 ounces) of unsalted or uncoated nuts is recommended each day – anything more than a handful can cause weight gain.

Get Creative In the Kitchen

In addition to foods that can help prevent heart disease, it’s also important to lower the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium in your diet. Try to get creative when cooking – whenever possible, substitute for low fat and low sodium options, use fresh or frozen vegetables versus canned, and try to make homemade soups and meals with healthy fats.

Quick Tips For A Heart Healthy Holiday

During the holidays, it’s more important than ever to stay focused on your health. Here are some quick tips for heart health and healthy eating during the holiday season:

• Portion Control – stick to appropriate portion sizes and avoid going back for seconds.

• Be mindful – avoid mindless eating, stay away from appetizer and snack tables, and offer to bring fruit or veggies so you have a healthy snack to enjoy.

• Food diary – write down everything you eat (or use an app!). This is a simple practice that helps to create awareness and prevent overeating.

• Limit alcohol – drink a glass of water in between each alcohol beverage and avoid sugary holiday drinks and mixers.

• Get enough sleep – most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.

• Avoid stress – the combination of overindulging in food and alcohol during the holidays coupled with increased stress can put you at a much greater risk for heart disease. Find positive ways to de-stress each day to avoid emotional eating.

Listen To your Body

There is no question that the holidays are a busy time. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and don’t put off warning signs until the new year. If you have questions about your heart health – or if you have concerning symptoms – make it a priority to talk with a doctor. Schedule an appointment today with a cardiologist at Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute by calling (859) 287-3045. For more information, visit stelizabeth.com/heart.

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