Test yourself for healthy heart

June 1, 2011

Joe Piscatella knows a thing or two about staying healthy. Thirty-three years ago, the now-best-selling author thought his life was over.

"One day I got a little pulling sensation on my chest when I was playing tennis, and then I went back and played again and got another pulling sensation," he said.

Two days after a doctor's visit, he was getting open-heart bypass surgery. At just 32 years old, Piscatella had a 95-percent blockage of his coronary arteries.

"You reach what's called a teachable moment, and all of sudden you develop a perspective about ... is this thing really the end of the world?" Piscatella said.

He made sure it wasn't by focusing on healthy eating and exercise. He's now one of the world's longest-living bypass survivors. So what do you know about what you're eating? For instance, is two-percent milk really just two-percent fat?

"The 2 percent on the carton tells you what fat weighs in the carton. It doesn't tell you how many grams of fat," Piscatella said.

Two-percent milk is actually five grams of fat per 8 ounces. Fat-free milk is better.

The fruit in your yogurt is one daily fruit serving, right?

"When you get to the fruit-flavored ones where the fruit is down at the bottom, it's more like jam, so it's not unusual to have five or more teaspoons of sugar," Piscatella said.

More like a serving of sugar. Check the label. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. Finally, what about research that says strawberries are good for your heart?

"Strawberries and blueberries are two of the best things that you can have either by themselves or on cereal because they are tremendous antioxidants that are cardio protective," Piscatella said.

Strawberries help reduce hardening of the arteries while blueberries are packed with antioxidants. That knowledge and more - helped Piscatella get back to what he does best, living.

"What I do is when I get up in the morning I make a decision that day that I'm here and that I'm going to do the best for my health just for this one day," Piscatella said.

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