Seeing Red! The Key to a Healthy Heart by Tara Hatala of GettingFed.com
High knees!!! High knees!!! These two little words can strike fear in the hearts of all of us during a BoxFIIT warm up. Literally. It’s like hearing the bell ring at the start of the first round and knowing we’re all in and about to see red. Not red from anger, but a flushed-red face from a circulatory system pumping harder than you are hitting the heavy bag in time with ‘It’s Going Down’.
Captain Obvious reminds you that red is also the color of love and Valentine’s Day and that February is American Heart Month with the Go Red for Women campaign held on February 6. Even if your new year’s resolution fell by the wayside, enlist your fighter’s spirit now to keep up those work outs and follow three fueling strategies.
First, while saturated fat may be back in fashion after decades of warnings not to eat it,the fact remains, this nutrient is a significant contributor to heart disease. Saturated fat suppresses the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor so the LDL remains in your blood. It raises LDL levels in your blood stream. Think of LDLs as the fat being transported from your liver to your adipose tissue for storage. Likewise, think of high-density lipoprotein HDL aka ‘the good cholesterol’) transporting fat to your liver for disposal. And saturated fat is thrombogenic or, promotes blood clot formation. You know of those blood clots and inflamed arteries causing those pesky heart attacks, don’t you? Sources of saturated fat sources include meat, dairy, tropical oils, chocolate, butter, lard, baked products, coffee creamers, etc. If it’s solid at room temperature, it’s likely saturated fat. Saturated fat has a certain ‘mouth feel’ contributing to why it’s enjoyable. Yes, you can eat some but should you fry that 9 oz. sirloin in butter, wash it down with whole milk and finish off the meal with premium ice cream? High knees!!! High knees!!!
Seeing Red – Second, keep your diet heart-healthy by choosing soluble fiber (oats, legumes, pectin, psyllium, gums) as it binds to plasma cholesterol and removes it from the body. Think of soluble fiber as the kind that gets gummy when wet and insoluble fiber as the roughage that moves food through your intestinal tract. Choose antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables with beta carotene, vitamins A, C, E and fish with selenium. Antioxidants prevent oxidation of LDLs. Oxidized LDLs are more athrogenic (forming fatty plaques in the arteries) than other LDLs – as if you needed another reason to keep them low!
Third, know your numbers. Not just your high- and low-density lipoprotein and triglyceride levels, but also your blood glucose. Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of individuals with diabetes. And no, there is no such thing as having ‘a little sugar’. If you have diabetes, rope that dope and get it to a normal level. Unchecked, it damages small blood vessels and capillary circulation, damages the nerve supply of the internal organs and damages the inner and outer linings of blood vessels.
So whether it’s red strawberries for antioxidants, or BoxFIIT’s new outdoor station ShovelFIIT to get your heart pumping, see red this month. Your heart will love you for it because everybodyfights and everybodyeats.