As American Heart Month, February is the ideal time to initiate the lifestyle changes that can help lower your risk of heart disease. Coronary disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, affecting one in four Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, a few simple measures could make those numbers much lower.
“We need to aim for proactive prevention and not damage control,” said Ara DerMarderosian, PhD, professor of pharmacognosy at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. “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.”
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 like turmeric.
• Limit consumption of red meat to one or two servings a 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.
• Avoid and reduce stress as much as possible.
• Maintain a positive attitude.
• Exercise moderately and regularly.
• Maintain bowel regularity.
• Drink alcohol moderately: about one glass of red wine daily is acceptable.
• Practice portion control and consume meals unhurriedly.
Within the department of biological sciences at USP, Dr. DerMarderosian’s research interests include pharmacognosy, medicinal chemistry, and the medical value of foods (nutraceuticals). His research group’s current projects include analyses of pomegranate, blueberries, erythroxylon species, barley, and antimicrobials in African herbs. He has authored and contributed to several texts, as well as served as author and section editor for Remington: The Science and Practice of Pharmacy. Most recently, he coauthored a book for the American Dietetic Association on herb/drug interactions.