American Heart Month is the perfect time to initiate lifestyle changes that can help lower your risk of heart disease, according to Ara DerMarderosian, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Coronary disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it affects one in four Americans. However, a few simple measures could make those numbers much lower.
“We need to aim for proactive prevention and not damage control,” said Dr. DerMarderosian, who is a noted pharmacognosist, author, and lecturer. “Our goal should be not only to minimize the behaviors that are harmful to our health, but to implement the practices that are known to be helpful and beneficial.”
To help protect your heart, Dr. DerMarderosian has identified a few simple diet and lifestyle changes that anyone can practice:
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
● Avoid fried foods and highly-processed foods such as deli meats.
● Seek low-fat and low-cholesterol foods.
● Consume six to seven servings of vegetables daily.
● Eat fresh, homemade meals rather than processed and prepared foods.
● Increase antioxidants in your diet by eating foods such as citrus fruits, blueberries, and spices such as turmeric.
● Limit consumption of red meat to one or two servings each week.
● Eat more fresh chicken, turkey, and fish, including salmon, cod, herring, mackerel, and sardines, which supply heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Live a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
● Don’t smoke and steer clear of high-smoker areas and events.
● Avoid and reduce stress as much as possible.
● Maintain a positive attitude.
● Exercise moderately and regularly.
● Maintain bowel regularity.
● Drink alcohol moderately; roughly one glass of red wine daily is acceptable.
● Be cautious and consult your physician before taking dietary supplements which claim heart benefits.
● Practice portion control and consume meals unhurriedly.
Within the Department of Biological Sciences at University of the Sciences, Dr. DerMarderosian’s research interests include pharmacognosy, medicinal chemistry, and the medical value of foods (nutraceuticals). He is continuously recognized for his significant contributions to society in the fields of pharmacognosy, pharmacology, veterinary medicine and podiatry. Dr. DerMarderosian has authored and contributed to countless academic texts, and served as author and section editor for Remington: The Science and Practice of Pharmacy. He has more than 35 years of experience in natural products and medicine.