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Men's Health – Dietary Choices That Affect Your Heart

High blood pressure, smoking, excessive alcohol use, high cholesterol, a poor diet, obesity, and physical inactivity all top the list of risk factors. And if you're generally unhealthy, you significantly up your odds of developing heart disease.

To right yourself on the path to better heart health, a good place to start is with changes to your diet. Avoiding trans fat, saturated fat, salt and added sugars are just some of the many ways you can protect your ticker.

Avoid Trans Fat
"Hydrogenated oil" or "partially hydrogenated oil" are inherent in foods containing trans fat. Big culprits include packaged snacks, crackers, bakery goods and some margarines. It's important to read the labels carefully. If a package says "zero trans fat," the amount per serving may be less than 0.5 g and may have just been rounded down to zero in order to support the claim. The only way to really be sure you're getting a product without trans fat is to read the ingredients.

Hold the Mayo
Foods that are high in saturated fats – butter, sour cream, mayo and fatty cuts of meats – elevate "bad" LDL cholesterol and lead to plaque buildup in arteries. Instead of butter, try vegetable-based oils like olive and canola oil, both of which contain good amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Also, replace higher-fat meats with lean poultry, fish and beans.

Trade the Salt for Mrs. Dash
A 20-year study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that overweight men with the highest sodium intakes were 61 percent more likely to die of heart disease than those with lower intakes.

Swap Honey for Sugar
Sugar consumption can lower your levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, potentially increasing your risk of heart-related disorders. Researchers at the University of Illinois found that honey has powerful antioxidant qualities that help combat cardiovascular disease.

The Latest In Minimally Invasive Approaches – CoreValve®
El Camino Hospital's cardiovascular specialists participate in clinical research, which allows us to bring you some of the latest minimally invasive approaches to treat heart valve conditions. One of these exciting technologies is the FDA-approved CoreValve a stent with an artificial valve sewed into it, which is used to treat aortic valve disorders.

To perform the procedure, your doctor inserts a catheter fitted with the device through a small incision in your upper thigh. The catheter is threaded through the artery and into your heart where your doctor can position the device to repair the affected valve.

To see how this beneficial new treatment is helping patients who are at high risk to undergo open-heart surgery, watch this video.

This story first appeared in the February 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.