Confusion about what it means to eat heart-healthy

On the fourth of every month, News4Jax wants to remind you of the 4 on 4 Take it to Heart Challenge. It's 4 simple steps towards a heart healthy lifestyle. And the support you get by signing up for the challenge is invaluable. In fact, a new survey says Americans are really confused about what it means to eat heart-healthy, so guidance and support could help save your life..

First, the Cleveland Clinic Heart Healthy Survey released this week results show people are more likely to consider a low-fat diet as best for their hearts, but cardiologist Dr. Steve Nissen says that's not true anymore.

"It turns out that evidence has gradually accumulated over a long period of time that ultra-low fat diets or low fat diets are not particularly heart healthy and don't seem to help with obesity," explained the Cleveland Clinic cardiologist.

The survey also shows about half of Americans have tried a diet in the past year to potentially improve heart health. However, the diet with the most heart-healthy evidence behind it, the Mediterranean Diet, was only tried by 5-percent of those surveyed. The Mediterranean Diet is heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. it's not considered low-fat and contains a lot of good, healthy fats like olive oil.

"There are things in olive oil that do promote heart health, and in fact, may even reduce the risk of developing diabetes," said Nissen.

Nearly half of those surveyed either have heart disease or have a family member with it. And of those, 68-percent say their personal experience was enough to promote a diet change. In addition, one-third of people said that convenient options like fast food and vending machines negatively impact their diets.

"People don't think about their heart health when they plan their day. We are in a society where men and women, majority of them are working every day, under a lot of stress, they don't have time to cook healthy meals and it's very easy to stop at a fast food restaurant," Nissen said.

The survey also shows that Americans realize the importance of healthy eating, but that it's hard for people to part with certain things. Carbs top the list overall, while women also struggle with chocolate and men have a hard time cutting out red meat.

Take It To Heart

News4Jax, together with Baker-Gilmour Cardiovascular Institute and Walgreens, have put together the Take it to Heart Four Step Challenge, to help you and your family get heart healthy. On the fourth of every month, we take a moment to encourage you to sign up.

There are four steps to the challenge:

  • Learn the symptoms
  • Know your risk factors
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise

  • To sign up for the challenge, go to