Don't Let Those Extra Pounds Weigh Your Heart Down

Weight loss has more benefits than looking good in a bathing suit or new outfit. Shedding even a few extra pounds can greatly improve heart and vascular health. It can help to boost heart function, lower blood pressure and improve metabolism.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), between 60 percent and 70 percent of U.S. adults are overweight. Obesity is the medical term for having too much body fat and is defined by body mass index (BMI), an estimate of body fat calculated from your height and weight. A BMI of 30 or above places you in the obese weight category. It also means you have an increased chance of developing coronary heart disease.

What happens to my heart if I am overweight?

If you are obese, your heart must pump greater amounts of blood, which can cause the heart to enlarge and thicken. It also raises triglyceride, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Plus, it lowers HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.

Overweight individuals have an increased risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Clogged arteries with calcium or plaque
  • Thickened artery walls
  • Enlarged left ventricle of the heart
  • Heart Failure

How much weight do I need to lose for heart healthy benefits?

Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can improve heart health, boost your heart’s function, lower blood pressure and improve metabolism. For some, that may involve losing 15 or 20 pounds. But even those individuals who struggle to lose that amount of weight can benefit from smaller amounts of sustained weight loss.

How can I lose those unwanted pounds?

  • Eat a balanced diet with high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Reduce high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods and beverages. Eat fish, especially oily fish (such as salmon, trout and mackerel) at least twice a week.
  • Control your portion size: Use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions and keep track of the number of servings you eat.
  • Exercise! An exercise plan should include aerobic exercise such as running, jogging and biking, strength training, walking and yoga, which is calming and good for lower blood pressure

Though it’s not always easy to shed those unwanted pounds, your heart will surely thank you for it!

If you are having difficulty losing weight, Saint Francis nutritionists and the Bariatric Center of Excellence are here to help! Call 302.421.4221 for a one-on-one consultation.

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