THE GREAT DEBATE

THE GREAT DEBATE
Should You Lie to Your Kid? The Great Debate

Ana Connery
December 21, 2015

Kids are nothing if not curious, peppering their parents with questions from the moment they’re able to form them. The older they get, the deeper they seem to probe, and the harder it gets for moms and dads to tell them harmless fibs without fear of getting caught. From “where do babies come from?” to the more prickly “did you ever smoke pot?” and “why are you and dad fighting?” there are moments when every parent is tempted to tell a big, fat lie — or at least gloss over the truth.

Kids’ queries are not the only things that prompt parents to lie. Depending on the child’s age, there are plenty of situations that most experts and parents agree may actually call for a bit of dishonesty. Sometimes we do it to protect our kids from events we don’t think they’re mature enough to handle, such as a terror attack or a family member’s terminal diagnosis. Other times we’re protecting our own privacy (“What were you and Aunt Lucy talking about on the phone?”) or trying to spare their feelings (“Why wasn’t I invited to Beth’s party?”), and when they’re younger, we often do it to encourage good behavior (“Santa is watching.”)

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But when is it OK to lie to your kids, and when should you opt to tell the truth? And perhaps just as important, does lying to your kids do more harm than good over the long run?

What the research says

Eighty-four percent of Redbook magazine readers surveyed admit to lying to their kids about once a month, and more than 76 percent of them said they felt guilty about telling their kids lies.

OK, so we’re lying to our kids, but is that harmful? The answer may depend on a host of factors, including age, maturity level, and the nature and purpose of the deception. Here’s something to consider: A University of California, San Diego study found that the more children are lied to, the greater the likelihood that they themselves will cheat and lie. The takeaway seems to be to choose your fibs wisely and, for goodness’s sake, space them out.

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Another research study, this one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that kids can tell if parents are committing “sins of omission” — that is, only telling half-truths, prompting children not to trust them. “This shows that children are not just sensitive to who’s right or wrong,” lead author Hyowon Gweon told Time magazine. “Children can also evaluate others based on who’s providing information that is enough or not enough for accurate inference.”

What the experts say

“There are no hard and fast rules about what is and isn’t OK to lie to your kids about,” social worker and family therapist Jennifer Mansell told Today’s Parent. “Instead, it’s important for parents to examine the intent behind their lies.” Most experts seem to agree that there isn’t a need for chronic lying, nor for lying simply for the sake of it. When it’s to preserve a tradition such as Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, for example, the benefits of the lie will likely outweigh the costs until kids reach the appropriate age. “When your kid starts questioning the likeliness of these characters, it’s time to come clean,” Mansell says.

What about more difficult subjects, such as whether you experimented with drugs or alcohol as a teen? “Part of your job as a parent is to cater what you divulge to the age and development of your child,” Michele Borba, author of 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know, told Redbook. “Often, it’s smarter to tell just a little part of the story rather than the whole messy truth.” For example, maybe you tell your generally responsible 16-year-old that you tried alcohol, but a mischievous and rebellious teen (or tween) is told an entirely different story. Manipulating the truth a little is sometimes the most responsible thing a parent can do.

What if you’re caught in a lie? Chances are your kid will be upset and you might feel a bit foolish, both of which will usually quickly pass. But if it happens a lot, your child may start questioning everything you say and stop trusting you altogether. “Kids need their parents to be a rock of certainty, and each lie is a chip off that certainty,” Nancy Darling, professor of psychology at Oberlin College, told Redbook. You don’t want to lie so often that kids become chronic fibbers themselves, nor do you want to lie to the point that you miss opportunities to discuss difficult subjects, such as sex or illness. “I think your children look to you to be their protector and guide and instruct them,” psychologist Jennifer Hartstein, PhD, told CBS News. “The more [lies] we tell, the less likely they are going to be to trust you — and trust other people.” This can backfire when those teachable moments arise and it becomes critical that they not only hear what you have to say, but trust your words too.

What the parents say

“I have a younger sister who loves to tell tales to her nieces and nephews about when their parents were young and the mischief we got ourselves into. Now that my kids are in their teens, I think it’s about age-appropriateness. It’s probably not a good idea to tell my teenage son that I snuck out of the house after bedtime to meet my friends. However, sometimes a little white lie might make the world a happier place for everyone, and it’s in the best interest of the child not to know the truth.” — Julie Sheehan Bergin, Lynbrook, N.Y.

“I want my sons to feel like they can trust me, but at the same time, they don’t need to know every little thing. Otherwise they will worry about things they can’t control. If a parent loses a job, for example, that can sound scary to a 9-year-old. It’s a delicate balance.” — Jeffrey Downey, Columbus, Ohio

“I recently lost a very dear friend to breast cancer. It was a long and painful six-year battle. The family chose not to tell the daughters (ages 6 and 13) until the weekend before she passed. This haunts me. I have no idea when you tell your children this horrible news, but both are very bright and watched her body be taken over first by chemo, then cancer. I wonder with a grief-ridden, torn heart what that has done to their childhood — to their trust. There is no easy answer.” — Melissa Bilash, Wayne, Pa.

The bottom line

You’d be hard-pressed to find an expert who will tell you that lying to kids about whether the zoo is open is going to harm them, especially when they’re young. But if you do feel the need to lie, you probably want to tailor the lies to their age, telling them as much of the truth as your instincts deem necessary at the moment. If you do tell a few lies here and there when you feel it’s appropriate, don’t feel guilty about it, but try not to do it often. Over time, kids may begin to distrust you, and you may end up missing out on opportunities to teach them important life lessons.

5 financial fitness habits to begin in the new year

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(BPT) – While many people focus on personal health goals in the new year, the beginning of the year is also a great time to check your financial fitness. So how can you whip your finances into shape?

South University College of Business, Virginia Beach faculty member Dr. Alan Harper says everyone should adopt these five financial habits in 2015:

Establish a budget

Harper says the first step in taking control of your finances is to establish a budget. “It is extremely important to know how much money is coming in, where it’s going, and allocating it appropriately,” he says. “Having a budget allows you to gain a broader understanding of your spending habits.”

Make sure your budget includes allowances for food, clothing, gas, and even entertainment, Harper advises.

Start saving

Your budget should also include money set aside for emergencies. Harper says the old rule-of-thumb that three month’s salary is enough to have in your bank account no longer applies in our current economy.

“We found in the last recession that people who lost their jobs tended to stay out of work much longer than three months,” he says. “You should have six months to a year’s worth of income in savings, just in case.”

Harper says you should also try to put away 15 percent of your take-home income toward your retirement. Many retirement savings options are available, including 401(k)s, Roth IRAs and individual retirement accounts. It is important to do your homework before deciding on a long-term investment strategy so that you are aware of terms, conditions and any fees associated with your options.

Manage your credit

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to check your credit history, and to look for any mistakes on your credit report, Harper advises. Mistakes on your credit report can cost you large sums of money in interest rates, or even keep you from being approved for a loan.

“The law requires the three major credit reporting agencies to provide you with one free credit report a year,” Harper says. “Pull those reports and look for discrepancies. If you find one, file a dispute with the credit reporting agency and they will remove the item if it is incorrect.”

Harper also says to check your FICO score on the report, make sure you have an understanding of what the score means, and how to improve it if the score is low.

Shop smart

Make it a priority to save money while you shop, Harper says. He encourages clipping coupons, and says purchasing membership cards to discount stores like Sam’s Club and Costco can help you save money over time.

“Those stores will save you money in the long run on purchases like food, gas, and even personal care items.”

Check your insurance

Setting aside time at the beginning of the year to check your insurance policies can also save you money. Harper advises that you should review your auto, home and life insurance to make sure you have the proper coverage.

“You want to make sure you aren’t paying for coverage that you may no longer need, but you also want to make sure you have adequate coverage in case there is an accident or you need to make a claim,” he says.

Many companies also offer discounted rates if you hold multiple policies with them. So, if your auto, home and life insurance policies are with different companies, you may want to explore the benefits of choosing just one company.

“It’s also important to make sure your life insurance policies are sufficient to protect your family from a financial crisis in the event that something happens to you,” Harper notes.

“Establishing a budget, saving, staying on top of credit and insurance, and shopping smart all take some work,” Harper points out. “But the rewards to your personal and household bottom line are well worth the effort.”

Hollywood tips to keep your eyes star-worthy

IMG_6515(BPT) – No matter the season, beautiful and healthy eyes are always in style. How can you make your eyes shine like your favorite stars?

Jennie Garth, mom of three and star of ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ and ‘The Jennie Garth Project’ has joined the Science of Beautiful Eyes (http://theeyesolution.com) initiative sponsored by Alcon to help drive awareness around the importance of taking care of your eyes and making it an important part of your daily routine.

“As an actress, being in front of the camera adds a lot of pressure to keeping your look healthy and fresh,” Garth says. “Picking out the right eye makeup to highlight my eyes isn’t the only thing I think about in the morning. I also make sure that my eyes feel good and look healthy. From personal experience, I’ve come up with a few tips that may help others.”

To keep your eyes looking their best, Garth offers these tips:

1. “Waterproof mascara is great when you need a long lasting product, but when it comes time to washing your face – it could be the biggest battle of the day,” Garth says. “The eyeSOLUTION(TM) Program has great options to consider when cleansing your face, including SYSTANE(R) Lid Wipes. These gentle wipes quickly remove debris and eye makeup that may cause eye irritation.”

2. “You want to see your face when you put your makeup on so be sure to remember that your contact lenses go in before you apply anything to your face,” Garth notes. “And remember to always start with freshly washed and dry hands. This will help prevent bacteria from getting into the eye during the application process.”

3. “During allergy season, my eyes tend to get scratchy which makes me want to constantly rub them,” says Garth. “I use eye drops like Alcon’s ZADITOR(R) Eye Drops to relieve my itchy eyes before applying makeup. It is an easy way to help keep my mascara from running and my eyeliner from smearing!”

4. “Over the years, I’ve picked up tips from makeup artists I’ve worked with, and if I can share one thing it’s to check the expiration dates on your makeup to help prevent irritation and infection,” says Garth. “For instance, mascara and eyeliner should be used for no longer than three-to-six months and then discarded.”

5. “Living in Southern California, it can reach scorching temperatures during the day which can cause my eyes to become dry and irritated. SYSTANE(R) Lubricant Eye Drops provide lasting relief throughout the day,” says Garth.

Quick and simple at-home beauty treatments to try Saving money: At-home beauty treatments for your skin

 

relaxing-spa-therapy-11433850Saving money: At-home beauty treatments for your skin

(BPT) – Pampering yourself with skin and beauty treatments is important, but going to the salon or buying expensive products are not always the most convenient – or wallet-friendly – options.

In fact, 82 percent of women prefer to save than splurge, spending less than 50 dollars each month on their beauty and skincare regimen, according to a recent study from Poshly Insights on behalf of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda.

As an alternative, women can look to the following simple, do-it-yourself solutions to care for their skin. It might surprise you how many beauty treatments you can create from ingredients you already have in your home.

1. Facial scrub – For smooth, radiant skin, combine three parts baking soda with one part warm water. Using your fingers, rub the mixture gently on your face in a circular motion to exfoliate skin and remove dead skin cells. Be careful to avoid your eye area. Rinse off with warm water and you’ll notice your skin feeling smooth and refreshed.

2. Bath soak – Help soothe skin irritations, bug bites or mild sunburn with a relaxing, long soak in the bathtub. Swirl one-half cup of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda into warm water to help soften and soothe the skin and clean away any oils and perspiration that accumulated during the day.

3. Manicure and pedicure – Before painting your nails, give your hands and feet a little TLC with exfoliating treatments. For manicures, use a brush to scrub the nails and cuticles in a gentle, circular motion with baking soda. Rinse clean with warm water and apply your favorite shade of nail polish. For pedicures, soak feet in a basin with a mixture of two tablespoons of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda and warm water. After your soak apply a scrub of three parts baking soda and one part water. Rinse clean with warm water and follow with an application of a rich moisturizer and a warm towel foot wrap – your feet will feel smooth and clean. Finish the treatment by applying your favorite shade of polish to your toenails.

4. Hair care – Use baking soda to help remove residue that styling products leave behind for cleaner and more manageable hair. To achieve this, sprinkle a quarter-size amount of ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda into your palm along with your favorite shampoo. Wash as usual and rinse thoroughly. Just be careful to avoid the eye area when rinsing.

Avoid costly visits to the salon and expensive beauty products with gentle and simple at-home treatments. For even more fun, invite your friends over for a spa-themed get together and try out the tips above. To find more savings and solutions for you and your home, visit www.armandhammer.com/solutions.aspx.

Wrinkle-busting skin care tips for boomer women

IMG_0272(BPT) – Time brings plenty of changes, yet the desire to have healthy, good-looking skin transcends age. While some skin-care tactics – sunscreen and moisturizing – apply to skin of any age, baby boomers need to update their skin care and makeup strategies to ensure their skin stays healthy and youthful-looking as long as possible.

“Fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration are only the most visible symptoms of aging skin,” says Anna De La Crus, a skincare expert for glo therapeutics. “Others are less obvious but every bit as damaging. Dehydration, loss of elasticity and slower cell regeneration also affect skin health, and how good you look at any age.”

If you’re a baby boomer, it’s important to update your skin care and makeup regimen to keep your skin healthy and looking its best. Here are four skin care secrets every boomer woman should know:

1.  It’s not the number of years, it’s how well you’ve cared for your skin during them.

Age causes certain changes in the skin; cell turnover and renewal slows down, skin cells become less adept at retaining moisture, and skin becomes more sensitive. Taking care of your skin throughout your life – moisturizing, exfoliating and using sunblock – can help skin stay healthier and more youthful longer.

“As we age, lifestyle habits start catching up to us, some of which have been decades in the making before we see the visible proof,” says De La Cruz. “While it can seem as if a wrinkle appears overnight, there is no fountain of youth or instant cure.”

It’s also never too late to start taking better care of your skin, and it is possible to enhance skin health at any age. For wrinkles and fine lines, look for products that contain firming ingredients that will help stimulate collagen production, antioxidants to help protect against free radical damage, and smoothing ingredients to encourage cell renewal.

2. Your clothing and hair style have changed in the past 20 years; your skin care products should, too.

The moisturizer you used in your 20s may not be a good fit for your skin’s needs when you’re in your 50s. Baby boomers should look for skin care and makeup products specifically designed to address common concerns of aging skin, such as wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation. The leading edge in addressing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines is phytostem technology. Plant stem cells and firming active ingredients in the Cyto-luxe collection by glo therapeutics work to lift and tighten skin, as well as promote healthy cells and collagen production to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Two new formulas, Vitamin C , which contains 20 percent L-ascorbic acid, and Hydration , address the top two causes of aging: sun damage and moisture loss. To learn more about this luxury line of 10 products, visit www.gloprofessional.com.

For boomer women concerned about hyperpigmentation, daily sunscreen should provide protection of 30 SPF or higher, and include ingredients that brighten and lighten skin, such as retinol and glycolic acid.

3. Update your diet to include the nutrients skin needs to age more gracefully.

Good nutrition is important throughout life. Healthful nutrition is good for overall health, and it can help improve the skin’s appearance. Vitamins A, C and D are vital for skin health, and topical applications of A and C are also good for the skin. 

De La Cruz recommends boomer women stay on top of hydration by drinking lots of water. Incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, too – especially those containing key vitamins.

4. Your look has matured and so should your makeup routine.

The wrong makeup application can actually amplify the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and pores. As skin matures, a “less is more” approach is often more flattering.

“I advise women in their 50s and 60s to explore a clean, classic look,” says Janeena Billera, National Makeup Artist for glo minerals. “To achieve this, use natural foundations that illuminate and hydrate the skin. Choose neutral shades of matte to satin eye shadows, apply eyeliner tight to the lashline, maintain well-groomed eyebrows and add a natural flush to the cheek.”

Finally, Billera advises, growing older doesn’t mean you have to give up being trendy and fun. “Use current trends as an inspiration and simply tweak or tone down the look, always keeping placement and blending in mind.”

Simple tips to help pancreatic cancer patients eat well

Simple tips to help pancreatic cancer patients eat well

Simple tips to help people with pancreatic cancer eat well

(BPT) – What should you make for dinner? Most people ask that question at least once a week. For people with pancreatic cancer, however, daily meal-planning comes with particular challenges, such as ensuring they get enough nutrition and managing issues from their cancer or treatment. If you have pancreatic cancer or care for someone who does, you probably know that it’s not always easy to obtain the nutrients needed.

Strategies to promote better digestion and less nausea including consuming small, frequent meals; separating the consumption of beverages and food; and eating slowly. Those symptoms and others, such as loss of appetite and abdominal pain/cramping, are commonly faced by many people with pancreatic cancer as a result of their cancer or treatment and can interfere with getting much needed nutrients.

Additional tips include keeping a food diary to help identify foods that may be triggering pain, discomfort or indigestion, and keeping your mouth clean and healthy with frequent brushing and a simple homemade mouth rinse consisting of 4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda, to be prepared daily.

“Cooking. Comfort. Care. Nourishment for the Pancreatic Cancer Fight” is an educational program that highlights the unique nutritional issues faced by people living with pancreatic cancer and provides strategies, like those above, to help them. The program, sponsored by Celgene and developed in conjunction with culinary expert Chef Michael Ferraro, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and Meals to Heal, offers tips for managing nutritional challenges, recipes specially developed for people with pancreatic cancer, and how-to videos.

“I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this program because there’s no reason that people with pancreatic cancer shouldn’t have tasty, nutritious food that is easy to prepare,” says Chef Ferraro, who witnessed firsthand the nutritional challenges resulting from pancreatic cancer after his mother was diagnosed.

Ferraro worked with registered oncology dietitian Jessica Iannotta at Meals to Heal to create Turkey Sweet Potato Hash, a nutrient-dense dish that is a good source of protein and B vitamins, that can help boost energy – especially important because of the fatigue that patients can experience. In addition, the cooked apple and sweet potato provide fiber that is easily tolerated and full of antioxidants like beta-carotene and quercetin.

Simple meals like shakes and smoothies are often helpful ways for people with pancreatic cancer to get the nutrients they need. A Peaches and Cream Smoothie combines the potassium and fiber benefits of peaches and bananas along with soluble fiber from rolled oats, which can help alleviate loose bowel movements and promote regularity. Protein powder can be added for additional nutritional value, if approved by a patient’s healthcare team.

Visit www.pancan.org/cooking-comfort-care and www.Pinterest.com/Celgene to view the recipes and additional tips. There are also videos of Chef Ferraro and Jessica Iannotta demonstrating how to prepare these and other dishes as well as offering ideas on ways to adjust the recipes.

The Cooking. Comfort. Care. Nourishment for the Pancreatic Cancer Fight program was created by Celgene Corporation in collaboration with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Meals to Heal and Chef Michael Ferraro. The recipes and tips featured were developed by registered dietitians who are board-certified specialists in oncology nutrition, along with Chef Ferraro. The content is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Talk to your healthcare team for nutritional advice or specific questions you have about managing your condition or that of a loved one.

Ways you can support your kids’ school and teachers

Ways you can support your kids' school and teachers

(BPT) – With school back in session, you might hear your kids talking about the activities they get to do in class, on field trips or in after-school activities. To make all these extra adventures successful learning opportunities for your kids, they require financing and manpower. So what can you do to keep the extracurricular programs going strong?

Here are some tips to help the teachers at your kids’ school continue to offer those extra programs your children rave about when they get home:

* Volunteer – Chaperones and volunteers are always needed for school activities. Your school might require a background check, so be sure to volunteer your services early in the year to get that process out of the way. Ask the teachers if they have a volunteer sign-up form or process so you can participate in the activities where you are able. And it’s not just the classroom activities where extra hands are needed ? other areas of the school like the library or the school newsletter might also benefit from a volunteer’s help.

* Join the parent booster clubs – At the middle and high school levels, booster clubs are established. They’re often for sports teams, but other club groups like theater, speech and the marching band often have booster clubs as well. These clubs are involved in fundraisers and lobbying for funds from the district to support the school group.

* Support programs that support teachers – Many businesses and programs take the initiative to support schools and teachers. For example, Staples donated $1 million to DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding non-profit where teachers create project requests for classroom resources. Since 2000, $267,248,616 has been donated to support 297,226 projects in 58,722 schools across the country. It’s thanks to donations like the $1 million from Staples and individuals like yourself that these crowdfunding programs are successful. Be sure to let your teachers know about these crowdfunding opportunities if they have any classroom needs.

* Use your talents to help students – Schools often need tutors to help students in all subject areas. Additionally, at the high school level, students are trying to figure out what they want to do in the next stage of their lives. If you are in a career where you can offer a mentorship program, you can provide excellent career-starting opportunities for the school district and students. This tutoring and mentorship support will take many students far – further than they can go without your help.

As the school year progresses, you may find additional ways you can support your kids’ school and teachers. Be sure to share your support, whether in person or financially, so you can make a difference in the lives of your kids.

Childproof your finances: Tips for new parents

(BPT) – Whether welcoming a newborn, adopting a child or becoming a stepparent for the first time, bringing a child into your life means big changes – and a big impact on your finances.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, parents of children born in 2013 will spend approximately $245,000 – per child – on housing, education, food, clothing, child care and other expenses until the age of 18. With that kind of monetary commitment looming, new parents need to childproof their finances against life’s unpredictable situations and consider the potentially costly insurance implications of each stage of their child’s life.

Securing finances against the unforeseen

Americans work hard to keep their children safe – from retrofitting a home for a new baby to teaching a teenager safe driving habits and everything in between. But despite best intentions, on average, parents spend an estimated $11.5 billion annually on injuries to children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Throughout a child’s life, parents and guardians can face many unexpected financial hurdles related to injuries or illness,” says Adam Hamm, National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) president and North Dakota insurance commissioner. “Parents need to educate themselves about the risks, challenges and insurance implications of raising a child to reduce injuries, save money and potentially even save a life.”

Safety risks and unpredictable circumstances can arise in a variety of ways. Consider the following:

* Birth defects affect one in every 33 newborns according to CDC statistics. Babies who live with birth defects may face lifelong challenges, so it’s important to know if your health insurance covers pre-natal and neo-natal screenings, emergency delivery procedures and extended hospital stays.

* The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 44 percent of playground equipment injuries occur at home. Parents should double check their liability coverage to ensure it covers playmates who are hurt on their property.

* The CDC also reports that 46 percent of teens don’t wear seatbelts when riding with friends, significantly increasing their risk of injury or death in an auto accident. Something as seemingly simple as a teen driving contract can hold kids accountable – saving money and lives in the process.

Take action now

Understanding the insurance implications of a new child can be tricky. Get a jump on preparations by exploring the following:

* Determine if paid maternity leave is included in your health benefits. If you anticipate needing extra time off, a short-term disability policy might be helpful.

* Ask your employer about a flexible spending account that can be used to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover medical expenses and child care costs.

* Consider the impact on your auto insurance premiums if your expanding family compels you to purchase a larger vehicle. Shop rates and consider different models before you buy. Rates will vary depending on make, model, age of vehicle, etc.

* A new dependent means you should reassess your life insurance. Will your current level of insurance be enough to secure your child’s future if the unthinkable happens to you? Consult with your insurance agent or use an online calculator to determine if you need additional insurance.

* Adoptive parents, stepparents and custodial guardians should also check with their health insurers to determine a new child’s coverage eligibility. Life insurance policies, investment accounts and other financial accounts may need to be updated to reflect a new child as a beneficiary.

For more “first steps,” check out Get Ready resources for new parents at InsureU.org. The resource kit includes tips, questions to consider and things to do to childproof your finances before a new bundle of joy joins your family.

Healthy tips and advice for lowering your risk of heart disease

Healthy tips and advice for lowering your risk of heart disease(BPT) – Every year in the United States, about 600,000 people die of heart disease – that’s one in every four deaths. Coronary heart disease (CHD), which can lead to heart attack, remains the most common type of heart disease amongst Americans – killing nearly 380,000 annually. What’s more – heart disease does not discriminate by race or gender and people of all ages and backgrounds may be at risk.

There are a number of conditions that can lead to heart disease, such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Despite these alarming statistics, the risk factors of CHD are preventable with the help of various lifestyle changes and, when needed, medication. Whether it be a slight change in your diet or incorporating a new form of exercise into your daily routine, taking steps toward reducing your risk is simple and shouldn’t be overlooked.

High blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and smoking are three major risk factors for CHD.  One half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

Not sure where to start? Check out this list of tips and see what lifestyle modifications you can make to improve your overall heart health:

* Discover your true risk – There is a strong relationship between low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc) – also known as the bad cholesterol in the body – and heart disease; however, LDLc only accounts for 30 percent of the risk. The remaining 70 percent represents other risk factors not identified by a simple cholesterol test. Determine your risk by asking your doctor about comprehensive lipid testing, such as the VAP + Lipid Panel(R), which evaluates the complete lipid picture – not only cholesterol, but triglycerides and hereditary genetic lipid risk factors as well. With an accurate and comprehensive cholesterol analysis your clinician can identify your risks and create a personalized and effective treatment program to improve heart health and achieve healthy heart outcomes.

* Incorporate a healthy diet – Remember the age-old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Eating a well-balanced diet, including foods low in saturated fat, trans fats and high in fiber can help patients lower their risk. Try consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Also, start reducing your salt intake, which can help lower your blood pressure. Interested in a new diet? Check out the Mediterranean diet – it includes healthy, colorful foods and fibers.

* Move those muscles – Regular physical activity may help people maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. According to the Surgeon General, adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two hours and 30 minutes every week. Trying to avoid the gym? Activities such as gardening, swimming, bicycling and walking around your neighborhood are also good options to incorporate into your daily routine.

* Eliminate bad habits – Smoking cigarettes significantly increases your risk for heart disease. Even secondhand smoke can be hazardous to your health. If you are a smoker, talk to your physician about quitting and come up with a plan that works for you.

* Keep your blood pressure in check – High blood pressure often has no warning signs or symptoms but increases the risk for heart disease – so it’s important to have yours checked, especially if there is a family history of high blood pressure.

“By taking these simple steps, you have the ability to greatly reduce or prevent the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases,” says Dr. Michael Cobble, director of Canyons Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. “As a first step, ask your doctor about comprehensive lipid testing, such as the VAP+ Lipid Panel(R), to get an accurate understanding of your risk. It’s important to remember that CHD and other cardiovascular diseases are preventable if you take precautionary actions and begin practicing healthier lifestyle habits.”

Don’t wait until it’s too late – determine your risk for heart disease today. For more information on the VAP + Lipid Panel(R), recently featured on MensJournal.com, visit www.Atherotech.com.

4 small diet changes that can make a big difference

4 small diet changes that can make a big difference

(BPT) – The new year is a great time to start fresh. Many people commit to exercise more, stress less or make healthier food choices. Incorporating small, sustainable changes, versus dramatic, large-scale lifestyle shifts, can make it much easier to stick to your resolutions. This year, instead of overhauling your entire diet, resolve to improve your health with simple tweaks to your everyday meal and snacking routine.

Eat the rainbow

Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is an effortless way to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to eat one produce item from each color in the rainbow every day. For example, have blueberries in your breakfast oatmeal, a red apple for a snack, a spinach and radicchio salad with yellow peppers for lunch and sweet potatoes as part of dinner. You could also pack red bell peppers and carrots with creamy garlic hummus or a banana for a convenient pick-me-up between meals.

Adopt a smoothie regimen

Another easy way to consume more fruits and vegetables – as well as other healthy ingredients like nut and soy milk, yogurt, chia or flax seeds – is to start your day with a nutrient-packed smoothie. Smoothies can be a convenient, on-the-go, energy-boosting breakfast for adults and kids alike. Create personalized flavor combinations for every member of the family with the new Vitamix S30, which features a portable blend-and-go container that becomes an instant travel cup. If you have a sweet tooth, try a red cherry smoothie, bursting with the flavors of cherry, strawberry and grapes. Or, blend in antioxidant-rich kale or other dark leafy greens for an extra serving of vegetables.

Choose healthy fats

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting most of the fat in your diet from unsaturated fats, which can be found in foods such as fish, nuts, seeds and certain types of oils. Monounsaturated fats, from sunflower oil, canola oil and avocado, and polyunsaturated fats, like soybean oil, walnuts and flax seed, are sometimes called “good fats” because they are heart-healthy and can help lower cholesterol. Add these healthy fats into your meals: use avocado to cool spicy entrees; top salads with walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds for an extra crunch; and cook with canola or olive oil. Fats are essential for your body to function properly, so choose ones that taste great and provide energy and nutrients.

Make smart substitutions

Another simple way to change your diet is to sub in healthier options. There are many ways to adapt recipes that will increase their nutritional content without sacrificing taste. Replace the typical carbohydrates with vegetables: try crispy, baked zucchini sticks in place of french fries or spaghetti squash instead of traditional pasta. Secretly swap ingredients for more wholesome alternatives in your favorite recipes: substitute Greek yogurt in place of full-fat sour cream in dips and sauces or make a cauliflower-based pizza crust, instead of a flour one, for a more nutritious version of a favorite comfort food. With the right preparation and seasonings, your family will never notice the difference.

When it comes to incorporating changes into your lifestyle, it’s important to start slowly and make realistic choices. Don’t be discouraged if you have minor setbacks. With just a few modifications to your daily meals, you can achieve better health in the new year.

Red Cherry Smoothie

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (60 g) low-fat cherry yogurt

1 cup (76 g) fresh strawberries, quartered

2/3 cup (50 g) red grapes

1 cup (70 g) fresh cherries, pitted

1/2 cup (60 ml) cherry juice

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix S30 40-ounce container in the order listed and secure lid. Turn the dial to 1 and slowly increase speed to 10. Blend for 35 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.