Last week, the world mourned the loss of James Hellwig, The Ultimate Warrior. At just 54 years old, Hellwig (whose legal name is “Warrior”) collapsed outside an Arizona hotel one day after accepting his introduction to the WWE Hall of Fame in New Orleans.
Warrior was a legendary figure in the wrestling world, and his life was cut far too short—but why? According to the Arizona coroner’s office, the wrestler died of atherosclerotic/arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, or heart disease. The sad truth is that this year, Warrior will be one of millions worldwide to succumb to complications from heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, despite the fact that it is largely preventable. By not smoking, eating a heart healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting stress, and moderating drinking, we can greatly reduce our risk of heart attack or stroke–by up to 80%.
But what does a heart healthy diet look like, exactly? You can start by making some of these modifications to your diet–and by becoming a label queen (or king). Steer clear of packaged foods whenever possible, and when you do buy them, be sure to check the label for nutritional information–for the good news and the bad. It crushes my soul a little bit knowing that I can’t eat those delicious Trader Joe’s frozen Indian food meals every day for lunch (they are delicious, but like most packaged foods, FULL of salt), but leading a longer, healthier life is worth it to me.
The list below is something to always keep in mind–make it a lifestyle, not a strict rule. If you want to have bacon with your breakfast every once in a while, that’s fine–just don’t do it every day. Moderation is key. Keeping the house stocked with heart healthy foods (and mostly free of heart-unhealthy foods) is one of the best ways to encourage this lifestyle change.