Heart-Healthy Living – Part 5

Shopping for a Healthy Heart
Eating for a healthy heart begins with a trip to the supermarket. Making wise choices there will make it easier to eat healthy all week.

Start by planning your meals for the week ahead. Using Canada’s Food Guide can help you create menus that provide all of the nutrition your family needs. Once you have decided on what you will prepare, the next step is to determine what you need to make the meals and to create a shopping list.

After you’ve made your shopping list, check it over. Does it include lots of snack foods that are high in unhealthy fats and salt? Consider substituting fresh fruits and vegetables as healthier
snacks. Too many fatty cuts of meat? Consider leaner cuts, poultry, or meat substitutes such as tofu or legumes. Choosing low-fat and fat-free dairy products such as skim milk and fat-free yogurt also helps you shop for heart-healthy eating.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation offers these other helpful

    • Map your shopping route—start in the produce section where you should make most of your purchases. The outside aisles of grocery stores often contain the most nutritious foods.
    • Shop on a full stomach, not when you are hungry. You’ll be less tempted to buy high-calorie snack foods.
  • Read all nutrition labels and ingredient lists before buying packaged foods.

How Foods Affect Cholesterol

If you are trying to lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise your HDL (“good”) cholesterol, it’s important to know how certain foods affect your cholesterol levels.

    • Alcohol—red wine, white wine, and hard liquor
      Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol (a glass a day for women and one to two glasses a day for men) may actually raise your HDL cholesterol levels. However, alcohol is not a healthy choice for everyone, and doctors don’t recommend that anyone drink in order to lower cholesterol.
      Alcohol can also have a negative impact on cholesterol. For instance, more than two drinks a day can dramatically raise the triglyceride levels of people who are overweight or who already have elevated triglyceride levels. Drinking heavily can also lead to a number of health problems including heart disease and liver damage.
    • Dietary Cholesterol—red meat (especially organ meat), poultry (especially skin), egg yolks, dairy products (2% milk fat or higher), and shellfish
      These foods raise total blood cholesterol by different amounts. For instance, while shrimp and crawfish have more cholesterol than fish, they are lower in saturated fat and total fat than most poultry and meats.
    • Dietary Fibre—dried beans, peas, oats, barley, apples, citrus fruits
      These foods are excellent, reducing both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Carbohydrates—dietary carbohydrates come in two forms: simple sugars and complex carbohydrates
    Simple sugars include sucrose (added to desserts and sweets), fructose (found in fruit), and lactose (milk sugar). Complex carbohydrates are found in vegetables and grains.
    Complex carbohydrates make the best dietary choice, because they contain vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

Making Medicines Work
The best way to ensure that your medicines will work properly is to take them exactly as your doctor prescribes. And yet the World Health Organization reports that only about 50% of people typically follow their doctor’s orders when it comes to taking prescription medications.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation (www.heartandstroke.ca) offers the following suggestions that can help you get the most benefit from your heart medicines.

    • Always take your medications exactly as prescribed, and never stop taking a medication without first checking with your doctor or pharmacist.
    • Taking your medications at the same time each day will make it easier to remember when it’s time for a dose. Another helpful memory aid is to use a pillbox marked with the days of the week, or ask your pharmacist to package your medicines in individual blister-packed doses so you can see right away if you’ve missed a dose.
    • Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before selecting over-the-counter products, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, supplements, or traditional Chinese medicines.
      Many of these preparations can interact with prescription heart medicines.
  • Before you have surgery—including dental surgery—tell your doctor or dentist about all of the medications you are taking.

If you have any questions about your medicines, if you forget to take a dose and don’t know what to do, if you think you may be experiencing a drug reaction, or if you aren’t sure if you should refill a prescription, ask your London Drugs pharmacist

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