Healthline: Why Sleep Has Been Added to Heart Association’s Updated Cardiovascular Health Checklist
Healthline recently interviewed Natalie A. Bello, MD, MPH, director of Hypertension Research at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars Sinai, about updated recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) regarding key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health.
Among the changes was a new focus on eating whole foods like lean proteins and nuts rather than tracking individual nutrients. To help make the switch, Bello suggested starting small by including more vegetables in one meal per week. Although fresh produce is preferred, frozen foods that don’t have added sugars, sauces or butter are good alternatives.
“Everything in moderation. We’re talking about avoiding things that are bad for us, not necessarily abstaining 100 percent. I certainly never tell people you can’t have cake on your birthday,” Bello told Healthline.
The new AHA guidelines also stress the connection between the mind and physical wellbeing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront how interconnected our mental health and physical health are,” Bello told Healthline. “I applaud the AHA for calling out how anxiety, anger, stress and depression can impact our physical health. We need to treat the whole person in order to be healthy.”
Laying the groundwork for good or bad habits starts at an early age, Bello said. In addition to families helping their kids form healthy behaviors, she said local governments and public health agencies should focus on improving the health of everyone in the community.
“We really need to improve equitable cardiovascular health and provide appropriate healthy interventions to all people in all communities and meet people where they’re at,” Bello told Healthline.
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