Traditionally a month for lovers and all things heart related, February is also a reminder for us to take care of our own hearts! According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly half of the United States population will have cardiovascular disease by 2035, costing the country approximately 1.1 trillion dollars. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, accounting for approximately 1 in 4 deaths. The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented, arrested and reversed through healthy lifestyle choices.
Our goal this month at Synergy Private Health is to raise awareness about heart health and urge all of you to adopt simple habits towards a healthier you. The AHA has defined ideal cardiovascular health based on seven risk factors that people can improve through simple lifestyle changes. These are managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, getting active, losing weight, quitting smoking and eating better. These factors together are known as “Life’s Simple 7.”
The food we eat can have a major impact on the health of your heart and cardiovascular system. According to the most recent report of the State of US Global Burden of Diseases, poor diet quality is the #1 risk factor for premature death from chronic diseases, specifically cardiovascular disease. Poor diet ranks above smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity as a risk factor for premature death. In fact, up to 50% of deaths from cardiovascular disease have been linked to dietary factors. There are a number of foods that have been shown to be harmful to the heart, at the same time there are a lot of foods that have been shown to be beneficial to your heart! Each time you have a meal, you get to make a choice to do something good for your heart, so why not start today?
The February “Plant Power Your Heart” Challenge:
To make the Simple 7 even simpler for you, Dr. Parks and Kaitlyn have partnered with a chef to create a 7-day, whole-food, plant-based meal plan designed to pump up your heart with foods that will help reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. It is never too late to adopt healthier behaviors and habits. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins allows the body to heal itself! For the month of February, we challenge you to limit or eliminate sugary foods and drinks, processed foods (defined as any food not in its natural state) and animal proteins in general. This is a fresh, flavorful approach to eating and has been shown to have significant health benefits, especially as it relates to cardiovascular health.
Please do not feel like you must make all of the foods in our guide to start if you feel overwhelmed. Making small changes every day, however, can result in big improvements in your overall health. Perhaps you want to start with just one or two recipes each week. Our goal, again, is to encourage lifestyle changes that will increase your energy and improve your overall health. This is not intended to be a “crash diet” but rather a jump-start on your whole health journey. We have included simple recipes and grocery lists to remove any stress associated with your weekly meal preparation. We hope to help you find a handful of favorite, easy plant-based recipes that you can make again and again.
Our plant-based guide is free and can be downloaded from the Synergy Private Health website.
In addition to eating more plant-forward, here are some other tips from the American Heart Association to keep your heart healthy!