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Beat unhealthy habits to keep your heart beating

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People are accustomed to the sound of a heartbeat early on, with the soft thumping beat signifying the first sign of life in infancy and the last sound before passing. So accustomed to that sound, said Susan White, registered and licensed dietician with the Minneapolis Heart Institute, that “the heart tends to get taken for granted.”

“Often times, we don’t give our heart the care it deserves,” White said to a crowd of more than 200 at The Lodge in Baxter for the free community education program, hosted by Minneapolis Heart Institute — Brainerd Lakes Monday night.

Complete with heart and body healthy appetizers — fresh fruit skewers, almonds and water — White presented “From Table to Ticker: Food Wisdom for the Heart”, touching on key focus areas to help maintain a healthy diet with an emphasis on nutrition for the heart in both males and females.

The first large scale event hosted by the Minneapolis Heart institute — Brainerd Lakes, White stated a variety of numbers pertaining to health in the U.S. including:

• 50 percent of adults, according to the National Cancer Institute study, do not have fruit daily and 20 percent do not have vegetables daily.

• 25.5 percent of people in the state of Minnesota are obese, right in the middle of where other states across the U.S. fall.

• 67 percent of adults 20 years of age and over in America are overweight.

• One in three children and youth in America are overweight.

“It’s easy for us as adults to tell our children to eat their fruits and vegetables but once we get to be adults ourselves, we stop taking that advice,” said White, adding that a plant based diet is one of the easiest ways to keep a healthy heart and diet. “And as the obesity rate climbs, especially among our youth, critics say that this could be the first time our children don’t live as long as in the past.”

White continued on, stressing that more than anything, moderation in food is key. She said smaller plates and getting all of the required good groups — fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein may seem like common sense but is not often followed.

In addition, beware of saturated fats. A woman on a 1,500 calorie diet should consume less than 12 grams (or 7 percent of fat calories) of saturated fat — on of the biggest sources of cholesterol according to White — and a men with a 2,000 calorie diet less than 16 grams. White also added that terms such as “tender” should raise a red flag for sodium, another concern when it comes to cholesterol and the heart.

“Educate yourselves by reading the labels and asking questions when they come up,” said White.

Helping educate the public on some of those heart healthy tips was the premise behind hosting the event in the first place.

“There’s a lot of confusion in the literature and news about what foods are good and what foods are bad, even some of them conflicting,” said Dr. Timothy Dirks, cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute — Brainerd Lakes. “With this (event) people can get a professional’s perspective, a dietician in particular, on what is good nutrition.

“People want to hear this information because it affects everyone, across the nation and here in the Brainerd lakes.”

Apparent by the mass amount of people who showed up for the hour and half long session, the information was welcomed among the public.

“I wanted to come out and see what I can do to improve health and be responsible when it comes to that,” Roberta Freese from Nisswa said, who added she learned Monday night that, “everybody should take fish oil.”

And education, White said, is the first step in empowering your healthy habits.

“There is a power in what you choose to eat,” said White. “Take a second look. What you eat affects not only your health today, but your health tomorrow.”

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).