Session 14

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Being at risk for type 2 diabetes puts you at higher risk in heart attack and stroke. The good news is that you can actively take steps to protect your cardiovascular health.

Keep your heart and blood vessels healthy

Many aspects of our UPrevent diabetes prevention program overlap with the recommendations for prevention of cardiovascular disease.

These are to:

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Reach and stay at a healthy weight

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Choose foods that are:

– Low in calories, salt (sodium), and fats—especially unhealthy fats


– High in fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and protein


– certain fibers like oatmeal help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol

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Be active for at least 150 minutes a week, at a moderate pace or more

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Avoid sitting still for long periods of time. Take a 2-minute fitness break every 30 minutes.

In addition, to prevent heart disease:
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If you smoke, quit.

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Work with your healthcare provider to manage risk factors for heart disease and stroke

– Aim to keep your blood pressure under control
– Aim to keep your blood lipids [LDL (bad) & HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides] in good range
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Manage stress.

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Limit alcohol.

Many risk factors for heart disease can be controlled by being physically active and eating a healthy, weight reducing diet which is low in fats, especially unhealthy fat.

A heart-healthy lifestyle is your best defense against BOTH heart disease and diabetes.

Emma’s dilemma

Woman with silver hair smiling while wearing airpods

Emma

Emma was told by her doctor that her cholesterol and triglycerides were high. He told her to eat less fat. Emma begins to look at the nutrition labels of some of her usual foods but isn’t sure which fats she needs to limit.

The Facts About Fats:

Look at nutrition labels to know the type and amount of fat in the foods you are eating.

There are three types of fats that in excess contribute to cardiovascular disease:
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Saturated fat

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Trans fat

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Cholesterol

Unsaturated fats are not thought to be harmful, but like all fats are high in calories. There are two types:
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Monounsaturated

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Polyunsaturated

Almost all foods have a combination of all of these types of the fats but vary widely in the amounts and proportions of each.

What is important to look for is which type of fat is in the highest amount and more often choose items which have a higher amount of mono and polyunsaturated fats than saturated fats.

Eating too much saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol raises the level of cholesterol in the blood, leading to the build-up of cholesterol in your arteries.

As cholesterol deposits in the arteries to form plaques, the arteries begin to narrow, which lessens or blocks the flow of blood.

Nutrition labels can be your ally
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Nutrition labels show the amount of each type of fat in grams (g) and the percent (%) that it contributes to your total daily allowance (% Daily Value).

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You can find the % DV on the right side of the label.

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Use %DV to determine if a serving of the food is high or low in an individual nutrient. As a general guide:

  • 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low.
  • 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is considered high.
For example, the food label below shows that 1 serving contains 4.5 grams of saturated fat, which contributes 23% of the Daily Value. This indicates this item is high in unhealthy fats. It also has a moderate amount of cholesterol and is also high in sodium and calcium.
Woman with silver hair smiling while wearing airpods

Help Emma Choose

While Emma is doing her shopping at the supermarket and comparing labels, she notices the difference between her regular reduced fat milk and a chocolate milk which she likes.

Compare the 2 labels; Which should she pick?

Although the reduced fat milk is an acceptable choice because it has less than 20%DV for saturated fat, Emma would be better off choosing the chocolate milk because the reduced fat milk is slightly higher in calories and has more total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than the chocolate milk.

Making the best choices isn’t always clear. Here are some foods that are high in fats that you might want to consider modifying.

1. Avoid Unhealthy Fats

Foods high in saturated fat include:
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Chicken and turkey skin

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High-fat meats such as regular ground beef, marbled beef, pork chops, spareribs

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Processed meats such as bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and salt pork

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Gravy made with meat drippings

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Coconut and coconut oil

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Palm and palm kernel oil

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Lard

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High-fat dairy products, such as whole or 2% milk, cream, ice cream, and full-fat cheese

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Sauces made with butter or cream

Foods high in trans fat include:
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Processed foods made with hydrogenated oil such as cookies, chips, and cakes

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Shortening

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Stick margarine

Foods high in cholesterol include:
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Chicken and turkey skin

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Egg yolks

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High-fat dairy products

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High-fat meats

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Liver and other organ meats

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Shell fish, especially shrimp

2. Limit “Healthier” Fats

Unsaturated Fats are considered to be healthier for the heart than saturated and trans fats, but they are high in calories. Remember, unsaturated fats come in two forms: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are one type of polyunsaturated fat.
Foods high in monounsaturated fat include:
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Avocado

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Canola oil

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Nuts like almonds, cashews, pecans, and peanuts

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Olives and olive oil

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Peanut butter and peanut oil

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Sesame seeds

Foods high in polyunsaturated fat include:
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Corn oil

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Cottonseed oil

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Oil-based salad dressings

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Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

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Walnuts

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Safflower oil

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Soft (tub) margarine

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Soybean oil

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Sunflower oil

Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include:
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Albacore tuna

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Herring

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Rainbow trout

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Salmon

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Sardines

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Walnuts, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil

Cook it Healthy

Ways to avoid unhealthy fats and limit healthy fats when you cook.
Instead of...
Frying or deep-frying in unhealthy fat
●Try an air-fryer
● Grill, roast, sauté, or stir-fry in a small amount of healthy fat.
● Simmer in water or stock.
● Steam or microwave.
● Use nonstick cookware.
Instead of...
Coating pans with unhealthy fat
● Coat pans with a squirt of healthy cooking spray.
Instead of...
Topping foods with fatty sauces
● Try lemon juice, vinegar, salsa, herbs, spices, hot sauce, plain nonfat yogurt, tomato sauce, or low-fat salad dressing made with healthy oil. Look for items that are low in salt (sodium).
Instead of...
Eating animal fat and skin
● Take the skin off chicken before you cook it.
● Trim the fat off meat before you cook it.
Instead of...
Baking with butter and oil
Bake with:
● Ground-up veggies or fruit with no added sugar
● Nonfat plain yogurt
● Veggie or fruit juice with no added sugar

Create A Positive Action Plan

In the next week, I will:
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Think of my 3 main meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner. Identify the items with higher levels of saturated fat and cholesterol.

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Come up with alternative choices or methods of cooking that will reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol I am eating.

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Keep track of my weight, calories, and physical activity