Lessons Learned from Heart-Healthy Countries


Why do Japan, Korea and France have the world’s lowest rate of heart disease? What are they doing that we Americans don’t? And what are they not doing? Here are some examples:

Smaller portions. The Japanese use the phrase “Hara Hachi Bu’ which means 80% full. One hundred percent full will make you feel stuffed and uncomfortable.

Fermented foods. These reduce inflammation, boost immunity, ease digestion, support weight control by enhancing metabolism, improve mental health and lower heart disease risk.

Green tea instead of coffee. Studies show that antioxidants in tea can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and clogging of arteries.

Eat fish. Omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA can be measured by the AA/EPA ratio, which is seven times lower in Koreans and Japanese than in Americans.

Get off the couch. The French and Japanese watch a lot less TV than we do. One study shows that each hour of TV watched after the age of 25 cuts your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

Walk more. The French, Japanese and Koreans tend to drive less and walk more, especially in major cities. Bicycling is also more common than here in the states.

Eat less red meat. In addition to saturated fats, red meat is relatively high in calories. The Japanese eat a lot less meat than we do, and when they do, it’s typically lean.

Slow down. Why do South Korea and Japan have the world’s lowest obesity rates? Studies show that people who eat slowly tend to eat less. Yet another reason to avoid fast food.

Manage stress. You don’t need a meditation cushion. Just take time each day to walk, garden or whatever quiets your mind.

Implementing some or all of these could go a long way toward preventing heart problems. If you feel you’re at risk, a heart policy from your association and AMBA could save you and your family financial stress should you require specialized treatment not covered by Medicare.

Eighty percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable. A healthy heart starts with you.


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