Do your heart good

Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can have a huge impact on the health of your heart – one that will be felt for years to come.

February is heart month and what better time to make changes to our lives and resolve to be heart healthier than one month into the start of a brand new year. This month, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada will be reminding Canadians why it’s so vital to take care of your heart and how you can do it – simply and easily. According to a recent report Becel published with David Foot called The Shape of Things to Come, by the time most baby boomers are in their 70s, the number of deaths due to heart disease and stroke will increase seven times faster than Canada’s population. It’s a sobering thought but it’s a reality that can be altered by reducing your risk through lifestyle changes.

Choose healthy foods. Prepare and eat more vegetables and fruits, which provide vitamins, beta carotene, lycopene and isoflavones. These nutrients include antioxidants which have been linked with decreased risk of heart disease. Choose lean sources of protein such as chicken and fish, and choose high fibre foods like whole ain breads and cereals. It’s also important to eat the right kinds of fats. Saturated fat and trans fats both raise blood cholesterol levels and are termed ‘bad’ fats. These fats are found in full-fat dairy products like butter and cream, processed foods containing hydrogenated fat and hard margarines.

Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats both lower blood cholesterol levels and are termed ‘good’ fats. These fats can be found in olive and canola oils, soft, non-hydrogenated margarines such as Becel, and nuts and seeds.

Make exercise a daily part of your life. As little as 30 minutes a day of physical activity can make a huge difference in your heart’s health. If you struggle to find the time to get active, try making little changes. For example, you can walk your kids to school instead of driving them, park farther away from the entrances in the parking lot and walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the dog every day. Every little bit of activity over the course of the day counts toward your daily goal of 30 minutes.

Reduce the stress in your life. Studies have found that almost half of all adults who are over the age of 30 feel overwhelmed by their jobs, their families or their finances. And it’s now known, according to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, that stress wreaks havoc on our circulatory system and can be a contributing factor to a heart attack. Being under stress can make us choose unhealthy ways to deal with it, such as smoking, eating junk food and being sedentary. All of these are risk factors for heart disease. One of the best ways to combat the effects of stress is to be active. Take a walk, go to a yoga class or do some deep breathing. If you continue to feel overwhelmed and your coping skills aren’t helping, you may want to seek professional help.

Even small changes can have a huge impact when it comes to improving your heart health. For more information or to access healthy living tools such as a BMI calculator, a steps counter, information on how to read a food label and delicious, heart healthy recipes go to www.becel.ca and www.heartandstroke.ca.


Buy Becel and Win a Heart Healthy Life
You could win a $20,000 Becel Heart Health Makeover designed to help you develop heart-healthy habits to last a lifetime.

Next time you’re shopping, buy Becel, peel the on-pack sticker to reveal your PIN, and enter it online at www.becel.ca. You could win 1 of 3 $20,000 Becel Heart Health Makeovers which include:

  • A personal registered dietitian and free groceries to help you learn what to eat for optimal health, PLUS
  • A personal trainer and your own home gym so you can be active every day – no excuses, PLUS
  • A personal life coach and spa getaway to help you get your life in order and get the down time your body and mind need.

    No purchase necessary. Contest period runs 12:00.01 a.m. ET January 26, 2006 to 11:59.59 p.m. ET March 31, 2006. A total of 1,014,200 on pack and mail-in PINs will be available on participating products and by mail, while supplies last.

  • A random draw from all PINs entered during contest period will be held on or about April 15, 2006. Skill-testing question required.

    Approximate retail value of each of the 3 Grand Prizes $20,000. Open to age-of-majority Canadian residents only. Odds of winning depend on total number of entries. For complete rules, including no purchase necessary entry and prize details, visit participating stores or www.becel.ca.

    This special educational feature was produced by Becel and the editors of 50Plus Magazine.