How to say ‘aloha’ to a healthy heart
With plenty of sun, surf and sand, Hawaii is home to some of the happiest and healthiest people in the United States.
Hawaii also has one of the the lowest rates of adults living with cardiovascular disease in the country. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 17 million Americans suffer from coronary heart disease and it affects people of all genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds.
For most Americans though, the island lifestyle is a tough formula to follow, especially when it’s freezing outside. However, there are several things we can take from our Hawaiian friends that can improve our heart health.
How Hawaiians prevent heart disease
Every year, Hawaii ranks very favorably in health categories that are related to heart disease. As a state, Hawaii ranks low in obesity and smoking rates. They also rank high in physical activity and mental health.
Heather Klug, registered dietitian at Aurora Health Care, says that we can prevent heart disease by being mindful of what we eat, staying active and creating a healthier lifestyle.
“If Hawaiians are doing something right in those areas, then we should take some of their healthy habits and put them into our daily lives,” says Klug.
What foods to eat
While you might be looking for an excuse to hop on a plane to Hawaii, many staples of the Hawaiian diet are available nationwide. The typical Hawaiian diet consists of a lot of fruits, veggies, starches and seafood. Some heart healthy options include pineapple, sweet potatoes and fresh fish.
Hawaii is also home to one of the hottest and healthiest food trends worldwide. Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is diced pieces of fish seasoned with salt, soy sauce and green onion. Poke can also be made with any fresh seafood, including octopus, clams or even tofu.
“Eating natural foods is important no matter where you live,” says Klug.
In addition to a healthy diet, physical and mental wellness can help prevent heart disease. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes several times a week. Also, take time when needed to decompress, manage stress and relax.
Combined with watching your weight and getting regular checkups with a physician, this can be an effective path to preventing heart disease.
“Adopting these healthy Hawaiian habits benefits not only your heart but improves your overall wellness, too,” says Klug.
About the Author
Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.