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What’s your cholesterol score?

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Learn how to keep your cholesterol numbers in check and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Since the number one killer of men and women in the U.S. is heart disease, it’s important to know your cholesterol numbers. Cholesterol, an important substance made by your liver, forms cell structures, produces hormones, and helps with digestion. Here are the cholesterol numbers to know:

  • Good, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL), cholesterol helps prevent fat and cholesterol from clogging your arteries. Know your HDL: Think H for healthy! A healthy number is greater than 60 mg/dL.
  • Bad, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), cholesterol can cause cholesterol buildup and block your arteries. Know your LDL: Think L for lousy! A healthy number is less than 100 mg/dL.
  • Your total cholesterol score should be less than 200 mg/dL.

Starting at age 20, get your cholesterol checked every 5 years. Doctors use these numbers along with your age, blood pressure, and weight to help you manage your cardiac health. Smoking, diabetes, and heredity play important roles too.

There are ways to manage your cholesterol and heart health! Regular physical activity can lower LDL and raise HDL. A diet low in saturated fats can help as well, so make sure to check out the New Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Spring into National Nutrition Month

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Diet, Nutrition
It’s that time of year again! “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” during National Nutrition Month.

March is National Nutrition Month® and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging everyone to enjoy different food traditions and celebrate the role that food brings to their lives. This year’s theme, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” points out that the how, where, when, and why are just as important as what you eat. Making sure to enjoy the sights, sounds, memories, and interactions associated with eating are essential. Slowing down and taking time to appreciate the positive emotions that accompany mealtime are also important steps to developing a sustainable healthy-eating plan. Developing an eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods is the best way to savor the flavor of eating!

Every March, the Academy sponsors its month-long nutrition education campaign to share its message that improving overall well-being requires a lifelong commitment to healthful lifestyle behaviors, including nutritious eating practices and regular physical activity. Be sure to visit the Academy's website and check out its resources on food, health, fitness, and more.

Put aside the pills and powders

Think you need that dietary supplement? Think again. National Nutrition Month reminds us to choose real foods first.

March is National Nutrition Month, a good reminder to eat healthfully and choose the best foods to fuel our bodies. This year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right,” which isn’t something we can often say about dietary supplements that come in the forms of pills and powders. If you’re looking for a supplement to lose weight, build muscle, or enhance your performance, HPRC always recommends choosing nutrient-rich foods first. They taste better and are better for you. Use the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) “Real Food” poster to see what foods can help you meet your goals.

If you’re still considering dietary supplements, be sure to visit OPSS where you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions, infosheets, videos, and other educational materials to help you make an informed decision. And remember to always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.

7 steps to total fitness

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness
The American Heart Association recommends 7 steps to better health. Learn how HPRC can help you every step of the way.

HPRC’s foundation is Total Force Fitness—“The state in which the individual, family, and organization can sustain optimal well-being and performance under all conditions.” The American Heart Association recommends 7 simple steps that demonstrate how HPRC’s domains can combine for your health and performance:

  1. Don’t smoke. Visit HPRC’s Tobacco resources for help quitting.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Explore HPRC’s Fighting Weight Strategies for ideas on maintaining a healthy body weight and condition. Don’t rely on dietary supplements as a short cut; visit Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) Weight Loss FAQs to learn why.
  3. Move more. Visit HPRC’s Physical Fitness Exercise pages for enough fitness programs to keep your workouts going. Information from HPRC’s Environment domain can keep you going any time, any place.
  4. Eat a nourishing diet. Start with HPRC’s ABCs of Nutrition and move on to Performance Nutrition to achieve your best performance.
  5. Manage your blood pressure. In addition to diet, keep your stress levels down. Visit HPRC’s Mind-Body Stress Management pages to learn how.
  6. Take charge of your cholesterol. That means staying away from saturated fats. To learn more, read HPRC’s Nutrition FAQ about fats, and while you’re there explore other Nutrition FAQs.
  7. Keep your blood glucose at healthy levels. Watch your carbs and sugar. Use HPRC’s carbohydrate needs calculator to make sure you don’t get more than you need. As for sugar, save it for special occasions. Learn how to read Nutrition Facts labels and spot hidden sources.

If you follow these steps, get your own personal health plan from My Life Check® – Life's Simple 7, and combine information from HPRC’s domains, you’ll be well on your way to total fitness. Pass it on. Practiced by all service members and their families, it’s a huge step toward Total Force Fitness.

Take it to heart

February is American Heart Month. Remember your fitness and nutrition goals to keep the most important muscle in your body healthy!

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death among adults in the U.S.—deadlier than any form of cancer. Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight/obesity, family history, and smoking.

So what can you do to protect yourself protect yourself and your loved ones? First, know your risk factors. There are some things that you can’t change, such as your family history, sex, and age. But there are many things you CAN change through lifestyle choices.

Regular exercise can help you manage many risk factors such as weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. By now, you’ve probably forgotten about your New Year’s fitness resolutions! Get back on track: commit to at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity at least 5 days a week. You can even stay active at work!

Remember to make healthy food choices and manage your stress too. Check out the newest Dietary Guidelines for the latest recommendations on eating right. Reboot those fitness and nutrition resolutions to stay ready, resilient, and fit. 

It’s citrus season!

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Diet, Vitamin C
Lighten up your winter menu by including a variety of citrus. Your local grocery store is exploding with choices—go ahead and partake in the enjoyment of this winter delight!

Looking for easy ways to increase your fruit intake with super healthy foods? Think citrus! Many varieties are available at this time of year—at their peak of flavor, availability, and cost. Citrus include lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, clementines, and many others. They contain essential potassium, calcium, antioxidants, and fiber—all of this in a small, low-calorie package!

Citrus have been around for centuries. Long known as a valuable source of vitamin C, British sailors, known then as limeys, took them on board to prevent scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency. If you haven’t been a fan before, experiment by trying new varieties such as super-sweet Cara Caras or tart-and-sweet Mineola tangelos! Here are some delicious ways to include citrus in your winter meals and all year long:

  • Lay sliced oranges and red onions on a bed of romaine lettuce and top with kalamata olives and vinaigrette dressing.
  • Halve a grapefruit, top with ½ tsp brown sugar, and broil for a few minutes.
  • Cube several varieties of oranges and add some fresh mint.
  • Arrange thinly sliced oranges and top with shredded coconut.
  • Create a parfait of layered oranges, Greek yogurt, granola, and drizzled honey.

Since many citrus have been sprayed with pesticides, remember to wash before peeling—then eat and enjoy! Who knew eating healthy could be so tasty?

Heart-healthy gifts show love

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
February is American Heart Month. Discover ways to make it healthy for your loved ones and yourself!

How you treat your heart today can add years to your life—that’s the best gift you can ever give your loved ones! The latest research continues to show that eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and minimally processed foods is good for your heart. Reflect on what you eat as this can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease. Make sure to include these heart-healthy foods in your nutrition plan too: luscious berries, leafy greens, a variety of nuts, and seafood (twice per week).

Want to show some love for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Cards, flowers, and chocolate are ordinary—do something extraordinary!

  • Surprise your sweetie with a fabulous meal. If you’re able, dine in this Valentine’s Day. Make a delicious spinach salad and salmon with a nut topping. Serve berries, frozen yogurt, and Chocolaty Delights (see recipe below) for the perfect dessert. You’ll save money, eat like royalty, and provide the nutrients your bodies crave. Don’t forget the candles and your favorite playlist!
  • Whip up Chocolaty Delights. Use cooking spray to grease the bottom of an 8 in pan. Blend one can of black beans (drained) and ¾ c water in a blender for 30 seconds. Add one box of brownie mix. Stir mixture well and spread in pan. Sprinkle ¼ c dark chocolate chips and ¼ c chopped walnuts on top. Bake according to box directions or until a toothpick (inserted in the center) comes out clean. Let your partner know that each tasty treat includes added protein, fiber, and iron—go ahead and indulge!
  • Give a gift of lasting health. Consider a fitness app, pedometer, or walking shoes. Then invite your sweetheart to work out or take a long walk together.

Find your best eating plan

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
You might have recently seen an athlete’s or movie star’s eating plan. Could following their diet make you a star?

Want to eat healthy and perform as well as the rich and famous? Often an elite athlete or entertainer has a dietitian or chef to plan meals and even do their grocery shopping. But is following someone else’s eating plan a wise idea?

  • Some superstars eat mostly organic vegetables and less fruit. A diet rich in vegetables is healthy, but can be taken to extremes. Eating entirely organic foods isn’t essential. Fruit contains numerous vitamins and minerals plus fiber. The current daily recommendation is 2–3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit. It’s also unnecessary to avoid nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and mushrooms), as it’s not proven that they cause inflammation.
  • A lot of performers pick proteins. Their pattern might include only specialty proteins such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, free-range chicken, and duck. These are good sources of protein but duck and beef should be eaten a few times per week, as they can be very fatty. Other good protein sources include eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. Nuts and seeds are higher in fat but contain healthy oils and other key nutrients.
  • Many icons avoid sugar and white flour. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sugar and refined grains but it’s unnecessary to completely avoid these foods. It’s best to eat at least 3 whole grains each day: whole-wheat products, brown rice, oatmeal, or popcorn are good choices.
  • Some celebrities only eat foods cooked with coconut oil. It’s better to include a variety of unsaturated fats in your nutrition plan.
  • Several VIPs dodge dairy. This isn’t recommended unless you have an allergy or intolerance. Dairy contains valuable nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, protein, and potassium.

Want to be ready for the locker room or the red carpet? Follow a balanced plan and eat what works best for you.

Omega-3s and brain health

Filed under: Diet, Nutrition, Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health, but beware of products marketed for concussions or traumatic brain injuries.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development and function, but they also may help protect against damage from concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Several animal studies have shown that omega-3 supplements given before or after a traumatic event not only reduce the severity of damage in certain parts of the brain but also improve mental performance during recovery. Similar studies haven’t been completed with humans yet, and although the results of these animal studies are promising, there isn’t enough current evidence to recommend taking omega-3 or fish oil supplements to reduce the risk of or assist in the recovery from concussions or TBIs. In addition, FDA has warned consumers to avoid using products marketed for these purposes. For more information, please read FDA’s Consumer Update.

Although omega-3 supplements haven’t been proven to help with TBIs, omega-3s are still important for your brain, heart, and overall health. It’s best to get your omega-3s from food, but if you choose to take supplements, do so under the supervision of your doctor. For more information on omega-3 supplements, please visit “Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth” from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Diet, Nutrition, USDA
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were recently released. They offer the government’s best advice on healthy eating. How can they help you?

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) just released the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines help shape policies for school lunch and breakfast programs, Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC), and nourishment programs for the elderly and military. The skinny is that they’re based on evolving nutrition science. They offer practical guidance on how to develop a nutrition plan too. Remember you can also seek a dietitian’s help to meet your goals towards healthy eating and performing well. Read more here

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