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CAT | Heart Health

woman-holding-childHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of roughly 600,000 people every year. Stroke is not far behind—killing one person every four minutes. Now, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) are embracing the power of personal connection and social media to improve cardiovascular health and brain health nationwide. Why? Life is why.

The life is whycampaign, unveiled this month, aims to get people talking about heart and brain health and sharing their stories with others. Using the Life is Why microsite, people are encouraged to share their personal “Whys”—who or what inspires them to live healthier every day—through photos, videos and other content using the hashtag #lifeiswhy. They can also send Life is Why e-Cards to friends and family, as well as create and personalize t-shirts, mugs and other items.

“We wanted people to be able to be able to share with others the reasons for embracing a healthy lifestyle in heart and mind,” said AHA Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown. The microsite also features a “tool kit” providing resources to promote awareness about healthy living. Visitors can read about the warning signs of stroke, find out where to take a life-saving CPR course, and get information on important diet and lifestyle changes that can improve cardiovascular and brain health.

Together the AHA and ASA hope to meet their goal of significantly improving American heart health by the year 2020 and promoting a world free of heart disease and stroke. In other words, they want to help people everywhere experience “more of life’s precious moments.”

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drive-thruAfter a long week at the office or another hectic day running errands, who has the energy to cook when dinner time finally rolls around? But before you swing through the nearest drive-thru or gather the family and head to that new restaurant in town, here’s something to consider: your nutrition—and your waistline—may be in danger.

A new study conducted by researchers at the American Cancer Society and the University of Illinois at Chicago gathered data from more than 12,000 people across the country and found that dining out had a significant impact on their overall nutrition. Whether they opted for fast food or full-service dining, Americans consumed more calories, sugar, fat and sodium than they would if they had prepared a meal at home. Below is a by-the-numbers breakdown of what researchers found:

Eating Fast Food:

  • 194.49 more calories
  • 3.48 g more saturated fat
  • 3.95 g more sugar
  • 296.38 mg more sodium

Eating at a Full-service Restaurant:

  • 205.21 more calories
  • 2.52 g more saturated fat
  • 451.06 mg more sodium

Similar studies have also found that Americans tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables when we take a trip through the drive-thru, resulting in a more calories and fewer important vitamins. Study author Dr. Binh T. Nguyen worries that our fondness for eating out may be the reason the United States is one of the most obese nations in the world. “Our study confirms that adults’ fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption was associated with higher daily total energy intake and poorer dietary indicators,” he said in a recent article.

The good news? Having a quick and healthy dinner at home is not as daunting a task as it may seem. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead by shopping for key ingredients and preparing a weekly menu on Saturday or Sunday. You can even chop veggies or trim meats ahead of time for super quick preparation, and getting kids involved in the cooking process can make it feel like more of a family activity and less of a chore.

For delicious, healthful and easy-to-prepare meals the whole family can enjoy, be sure to visit our online Recipe Center!

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