Did you know that the number one killer of active duty firefighters is heart disease?
Not smoke inhalation. Not bodily injury. Heart disease.
Heart disease accounts for 45% of all firefighter deaths. That’s twice the rate for police officers (22%) and three times as high as all other occupations (15%).
The reasons are not entirely clear. Certainly, that clanging alarm bell triggers a giant adrenaline rush. Adrenaline causes blood pressure to rise and makes blood more likely to clot. Carrying heavy equipment and wearing heavy protective clothing is like doing a stress test. And fumes from a fire are full of free radicals which can be toxic to the lining of our blood vessels. Put it all together and you have the makings of a heart attack.
But, like the rest of us, firefighters are also prone to food-related risk factors for heart disease including excess weight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes or prediabetes.
That’s why Step One Foods is partnering with our local Fire Department in St. Louis Park on the Healthy Hearts for Heroes project. Our firefighters will be eating our foods twice each day for 30 days and comparing the results of their cholesterol tests before and after.
Eating the vital nutrients found in Step One Foods will have additional benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids help to make blood less likely to clot. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. And a lower sodium intake helps keep blood pressures low. Put that all together and we’re giving our firefighters a fighting chance against their number one killer.
Whether we’re talking about a firefighter or the average Joe, what you eat has a tremendous impact on your health.