Healthwise for Guys: Cardiovascular Disease (FN1873, Jan. 2018)

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist

Rachel Reuther, Dietetic Intern

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Healthwise for Guys
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Quick Quiz

1. Which type of fat increases your LDL (bad) cholesterol the most?

a. Trans fat
b. Saturated fat
c. Polyunsaturated fat
d. Monounsaturated fat

2. Which risk factor is not one of the top three risk factors for cardiovascular disease?

a. Smoking
b. High blood pressure
c. Excessive alcohol consumption
d. High cholesterol

3. Which foods are good sources of “soluble fiber”? (Circle all that apply)

a. Oatmeal
b. Beans/legumes
c. Oranges
d. Sweet potatoes

Answers: 1. a; 2. c; 3. a, b, c, d.

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Damage to the lining of the blood vessels caused by smoking, high blood pressure or high blood sugar can allow the bad cholesterol to seep into the artery wall. The blood vessels can begin to narrow due to plaque buildup in the artery wall, which can rupture and cause a heart attack.
Symptoms of a heart attack may include chest pain and pressure, pain in the jaw and neck, shortness of breath, nausea and cold sweats. A heart attack is an emergency. Call 911 as soon as you experience heart attack symptoms. After 60 minutes without blood flow, the heart can be damaged irreversibly.

How common is cardiovascular disease?

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., resulting in 25 percent of all deaths among men annually. Most sudden cardiac deaths (70 to 89 percent) occur in men. Half of the men who die from a sudden cardiac event had no previous symptoms of heart disease.
Risk FactorYes*NoI do not
I am a smoker.
I eat a diet high in saturated and trans fat.
I eat a diet low in omega-3 fat.
I eat a diet low in fiber.
My total cholesterol is above 200.
My LDL level is above 100.
My HDL level is below 40.
My body mass index (BMI) is over 25.
I have high blood pressure.
* The greater the number of yes answers, the greater your risk of cardiovascular disease. If you do not know, be sure to check with a health-care provider for the appropriate testing.

Tips to Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

  • Quit smoking and stay tobacco-free.
  • Aim for at least 5 cups of colorful vegetables and fruits daily.
  • Eat food high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish (salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring) and flaxseed.
  • Enjoy foods high in soluble fiber (such as oatmeal, beans/legumes, oranges, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, flaxseed), which may reduce your LDL.
  • Choose more healthful fats such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean and sunflower oil.
  • Reduce your consumption of saturated fat, which is found in butter, full-fat cheese, lard, poultry skin and fatty meats. Read and compare nutrition labels and choose lean protein and dairy options.
  • Eliminate trans fat from the diet. Trans fat is found in hydrogenated/solid fats; it is used in some snack foods, biscuits and pastries. Read ingredient labels to see if “partially hydrogenated” oils 
    are present.
  • Get regular physical activity, aiming for 150 minutes per week.
  • Maintain a healthful weight.


These recipes were selected because many of their ingredients are associated with reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Fresh Cilantro Herbed Hummus
Fresh Cilantro Herbed Hummus

3 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 Tbsp. tahini
4-5 raw garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed and destemmed
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
¼ c. water, more as needed to desired consistency

Add all ingredients to a food processer and blend until smooth and creamy. Occasionally stop the food processor to scrape the hummus off the sides. Additional water may need to be added if the hummus is too thick. Variation: Substitute 10 fresh basil leaves for the cilantro. Serve with vegetables or whole-grain crackers, or use as a sandwich spread.

Makes 20 servings. Each ½- cup serving has 90 calories, 2 g fat, 4 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber and 190 mg sodium.

Fresh Herbed Salmon Packets

Fresh Herbed Salmon Packets

4 (5-oz.) salmon fillets
4 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
4 tsp. dried basil
40 cherry tomatoes
1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
4 Tbsp. lemon juice (juice of about one lemon)
Salt and pepper to taste (about ⅛ tsp. each, per salmon fillet)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Make four square pieces of foil and place a salmon filet in the middle of each one. Drizzle 1 tsp. of olive oil over the salmon filet. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Mince garlic cloves and divide evenly among each filet. Sprinkle each fillet with 1 tsp. of dried basil. Add 10 cherry tomatoes and two onion wedges per foil. Add 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice over each salmon fillet. Wrap the foil so the salmon is completely covered and bake for 15 minutes, until the internal temperature is 145 F and the salmon flakes with a fork. If the salmon fillets are thick, they may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Measure with a food thermometer.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 290 calories, 15 g fat, 30 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 360 mg sodium.

Omega-3 Power Bites

Omega-3 Power Bites

1 (8-oz.) pkg. pitted dates
1 (2-oz.) pkg. raw almonds
8 Tbsp. chia seeds
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder

Add the almonds to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it forms a doughlike consistency (about two minutes), stopping and scraping down the sides as needed. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time to get the right consistency. Dough is ready when it holds together when pressed between your fingers. Roll the dough into ½-inch diameter bite-size balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Each makes 32 servings. Each serving has 50 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 10 mg sodium.

Filed under: food, nutrition, human-health
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