Posted Nov. 11, 2008 – Diabetes, Obesity and High Cholesterol - do you have a plan of attack to help lower your risk? This Fall, arm yourself with a few simple strategies to help keep you from “fall”ing prey to some common health concerns.
Often referred to as “silent killers,” diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol are major health concerns that creep up overtime – sometimes without you knowing. Just like a pair of shoes, your body can only withstand so much wear and tear before it breaks down. The good news is that being proactive about your health can help add years to your life.
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1. Know the numbers, do the math. One of the best ways to avoid hidden health traps is to make a doctor’s appointment and get your numbers tested. High cholesterol, in particular, can be overlooked since your body may not give the warning signs of clogged arteries until you have a heart attack or a stroke.
Are your numbers within normal/optimal range?
• Total blood cholesterol (below 200 mg/dL)
• LDL blood cholesterol (below 100 mg/dL)
• HDL blood cholesterol (60 mg/dL or more)
• Fasting blood sugar (below 100 mg/dL)
• BMI (Body mass index) (Between 18.5 and 25)
2. Eat for the Health of it. Taking time to plan meals and food choices pays off. On a daily basis, “strive for 5” – at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day. Plus, make lean protein, low-fat dairy, beans, fish and whole grains a central part of your diet. Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to fall for the temptation of less healthy food choices if they are available.
An “Eat for Health” Grocery List:
• Be a savvy shopper—avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry.
• A variety of different colored fresh fruits and vegetables. Try tasting vegetables that you haven’t tried. Fall is a great season for several varieties of squash.
• Whole grain cereals, breads, rice, crackers and pasta. Read labels and look for products that are made with whole grain.
• Low-fat dairy products. Try low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese.
• Lean cuts of meat. Turkey and chicken are good options. If you buy beef, ask the butcher for the leanest cuts.
• Fish. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna with omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart and brain.
• Snack foods with zero trans fat and low saturated fat. Compare labels, look for lower fat and lower sodium options.
• Fresh/dry herbs or other salt substitutes.
• Frozen meals, vegetables, and fruits for a quick fix. Stock up on frozen fruits and veggies when they are on sale to have on hand for casseroles, pasta dishes, desserts, and sides when you need them. Compare labels on frozen meals and canned vegetables and choose those with lower sodium.
• Eggs or egg substitutes. Eggs are a quick to fix, versatile protein source—quiches, omelets, egg bakes, hard boiled, scrambled…the list goes on!
• Canned or fresh beans and legumes. High in fiber and protein, beans, like black-eyed peas, red beans, chick peas, and even low-fat refried beans, make a great addition to the menu.
3. Move it! Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity a day. Exercise helps bring good cholesterol (HDL) up and bad cholesterol (LDL) down. Exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight, which may lower your risk for diabetes and other health conditions. Find activities that you enjoy and bring your family and friends along – people who work out together are more likely to stick with it.
4. Maintain a healthy weight. You know you look good, but extra pounds can be bad for your health. Find a healthy weight that’s right for you and maintain it. Obesity slowly creeps up, but you can reduce the chance of weight gain without depriving yourself – just trimming 50 to 100 calories a day is all it takes. Think of small ways you can shave off 50 to 100 calories each day:
• Order a smaller size latte and have it made with skim milk instead of whole.
• Have one less regular soda a day, or choosing water instead of soda.
• Use cooking sprays in your everyday cooking instead of animal fats
• Share dessert or cut the portion in half.
• Try fruit as a snack instead of one that is higher in fat and calories.
Call 1-866-3-LOSE-IT for your free “Healthy BET” healthy living brochure!