A Wyoming Department of Health official says being mindful of the potential pitfalls holiday food and activities may pose to heart health can help keep the season enjoyable.
“No one wants to deal with a health crisis during the holiday season,” said Dr. Wendy Braund, state health officer and Public Health Division senior administrator with the Wyoming Department of Health.
“We may eat meals that are especially rich in fat and sodium. Some people experience holiday stress. We may drink more alcohol. Some people smoke or use smokeless tobacco products,” Braund continued. “All of these things can contribute to an increased workload for our hearts.”
“Unfortunately, many heart-related hospitalizations can be triggered by the food and lifestyle choices we may make during this time of year,” Braund said.
Dave Ivester, Wyoming Department of Health Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program manager, suggests carefully reading the labels on purchased foods as one simple strategy to help.
“Modern technology allows us to buy easy-to-use ingredients or foods that are already prepared,” Ivester said. “Sodium is a particular concern for heart health, and many prepared foods and packaged ingredients contain much higher amounts of sodium than we may realize.”
Package and can nutrition labels list the sodium, fat and other nutrients by the number of servings per container. “However, it’s easy to forget that many foods contain more than one serving,” Ivester said.
For example, a chicken broth label lists the nutrients per serving with most cans containing two servings. “The sodium content is typically around 960mg per serving or 1920mg per can, which is much more than experts recommend most people have for an entire day,” Ivester said.
Braund said, “Of course everyone enjoys a treat from time to time, especially during this season. We certainly want people to enjoy their holiday celebrations. But it is also a good idea to make informed and balanced choices overall during the season to avoid a potential heart-related health crisis.”