Frequently Asked Patient Questions, Part 1: Risk Factors and Diet

fcciblog1Visiting the doctor can be a stressful experience;  leading up to the appointment, you may have questions or health concerns, but when the time comes you forget to bring them up.

Below, we’ve listed some of the questions we often hear from patients, on topics like cardiovascular disease, diet, and weight loss. See what our doctors and nurses have to say, and check back for the next blog post in this series.





What are the risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
Unfortunately, there are some risk factors we can’t control when it comes to cardiovascular disease. These include age (82% of deaths related to coronary heart disease are individuals aged  65 or older) and gender (men are at a higher risk for heart attack).Fortunately, there are several major risk factors that are within our control. Tobacco use increases risk by 2-4 times. A well-balanced diet can reduce risk. Stress can play a role as well, since stress often causes overeating or tobacco use. High blood pressure, cholesterol and the presence of diabetes can also lead to increased cardiovascular disease risk.

What I should be eating and how can I lose weight?
The first step is to be aware of what you are currently consuming and measure this against what is healthy to be eating for your age, gender, height, and weight.The Super Tracker tool is a great way to get started. With this tool, you can enter all your information and get a personalized diet plan.

Understand weight loss is a gradual process.To lose one pound a week, 3,500 total calories – or 500 calories per day – need to be cut from your diet. It is recommended to not exceed a loss of 1-2 pounds a week. While 500 calories per day may seem like a lot, these changes can come from small alterations. For example, swapping soda for a glass of water could save around 200 calories. Choosing whole milk over skim milk could save about 75 calories. Switch out a bag of tortillas for air-popped popcorn and save around 300 calories. Check out MyPlate to see an example of a well-balanced meal.

What foods should I add to my diet to keep my blood pressure at a healthy level?
The DASH diet (“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”) is typically prescribed for individuals with high blood pressure. Vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts are key. The standard sodium consumption is 2,300 mg or less. Click here for more information.

How can diet and exercise keep my cholesterol at a healthy level?
To reduce high cholesterol start by losing 5-10% of your body weight. Limit trans-fats, which can be found in cookies and snack cakes, and saturated fats, found in red meat and dairy products. Instead, opt for low-fat dairy products and lean cuts of meat. Some of the foods known for their cholesterol-lowering effects include oatl and other high fiber foods, fish, nuts, vegetable oils and foods with plant sterols or stanols. Plant sterols/stanols block the absorption of cholesterol and can be found in orange juice or yogurt drinks.

The next post in this series will focus on healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you have questions or would like to make an appointment to discuss any of these questions, please call our office at 904.493.3333.

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