February is American Heart Month!

The news has been filled with reports of new guidelines to prevent and treat heart disease, hypertension and obesity.  My patients have pointed out that none of these new guidelines discuss diet. Reports about the new heart guidelines focus on a controversial new risk assessment tool and also the potential for many more people taking statin drugs.  Working toward achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and consuming a health promoting diet is still an important part of taking care of your heart.  If you don’t know your daily caloric needs, it’s time for you to go to SuperTracker (www.supertracker.usda.gov) and create a personal heart healthy diet and physical activity plan. If you know your calorie needs, you might want to track your intake using a Smartphone App like myfitnesspal.com.  Use the Nutrition Facts label on foods to identify foods that are lower in fat and saturated fat.  It’s recommended that you eat as little Trans-fat as possible and less than 6 percent of your calories from saturated fat. If a Nutrition Facts label shows a food having less than 5 percent of the Daily Value from saturated fat that is a low saturated fat food.  Avoid those foods that meet more than 18 percent of the Daily Value. Many people enjoy following a Mediterranean eating approach to protect their heart.  You can find a nice handout on the ECU Family Medicine website (http://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/fammed/resources/upload/RC_Med_diet-2.pdf) that allows you to assess your current diet and see what changes you might need to make.  And if you are on the Brody-Vidant Medical Center campus, stop in at the ECHI Heart Café (first floor of the ECHI hospital).  You can try affordable, delicious heart healthy food.  Are you confused about how to protect your heart?  Ask for a referral to a registered dietitian who can help you discover a healthy, affordable, fad-free way of eating for heart health.

 Kathryn M Kolasa Kelly PhD, RD, LDN
Professor Emeritus and Affiliate Professor.  Master Educator.
Vidant Health Nutrition Consultant