Nearly 50% of Americans Have Heart Disease

February is heart health awareness month. Heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans.   According to a recent study from the American Heart Association published in the journal Circulation, nearly 50% of adult Americans have heart disease.  Part of this is because of more stringent guidelines for high blood pressure. Hypertension is now defined as a reading of 130/80mm Hg or higher, when previously it had been set at 140/90mm Hg. High blood pressure puts people at an increased risk in having a heart attack or stroke. 
Though fewer Americans are smoking, Type 2 diabetes is on the rise and is a major risk factor for heart disease.  People are still  not meeting the minimum amount of exercise, are obese or overweight, are still consuming too much salt, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and not nearly enough fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. We have to get away from the “protein” obsession and get on the “fiber” obsession.
Heart disease can be preventable and can even be reversible with healthy lifestyle choices.  So, this February, in honor of your heart I recommend the following.
1.     Know your numbers. 
       * are you at a healthy weight
       * do you know your blood pressure
       * do you know what your cholesterol numbers are and what they mean?  Ask your doctor about a CT scan to determine your cardiac calcium score. 
       * what is your waist circumference? 
2.     Are you exercising a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week, along with 2-3 strength- training sessions per week and stretching several sessions per week.  Try to avoid prolonged sitting, get up every 20-30 minutes for a few minutes.
3.     Don’t be one of those misinformed people who think a high protein diet is best for health, it really isn’t.  Lots of studies show a strong correlation with high carbohydrate, high fiber diets and good health and longevity.  Focus on your whole plant foods and less on animal protein, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.