But in August 2014 my then 42-year old husband suddenly, without any warning, suffered a heart attack. While his cholesterol was considered “borderline”, he was very physically fit; working out and running several times a week. We discovered, though, that genetics plays a big role in heart disease and with a strong family history, my husband had a high risk for the disease.
We also learned that the food we were eating wasn't as healthy as we thought it was. My ideas about the "healthy" food we were eating were turned upside-down after we talked with a nutritionist in the hospital.
For a heart patient, sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat should be watched carefully. We learned about the huge amounts of sodium that are hidden in our foods and the high amounts of saturated fats in some of our favorite foods. I started reading labels on the food in our home and was surprised to see the high amounts of sodium in everything from spaghetti sauce to cereal; from the packaged seasoned rice to the bread we were eating.
Even more surprising is that the guidelines for sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat are for all Americans, not just heart patients. So why don't many Americans know about these guidelines? Why did it take a heart attack in my family in order to learn about hidden sodium in our food and the way that saturated fat affects us? It is clear to me why heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the U.S. - many of us just don't know the facts.
The doctors told us that my husbands heart attack was mild and we are very thankful that he has made a full recovery and is enjoying all the activities that he did before that day in August. I am now on a mission to share what we have learned. Look for heart healthy recipes and more information in the coming months!