Weekly Health Watch with information about omega-3 fatty acid, new research on psoriatic arthritis, pilates and more.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming polyunsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, for heart health. But what are these "good fats," and how do you make them a part of your daily nutrition program?

Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and author of "Eat Your Way to Sexy," answers some of those questions: 

Q: What are ‘bad fats’ and ‘good fats’?

A: Fats to avoid are saturated and trans fats, which are solid at room temperature, like butter. In contrast, consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids, like omega-3 DHA and EPA, are important for brain, eye and cardiovascular health.

Q: What if I don't like eating fish?

A: Interestingly, it is the microalgae that fish eat that make them such a rich source of omega-3s. For those who do not eat significant amounts of fish because of dietary preferences, allergies, a vegetarian lifestyle or worries about potential ocean-borne pollutants, there are DHA/EPA supplements made from algae.

Q: How much DHA/EPA should I get in my diet?

A: If you're not getting at least two servings a week of salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines, then make sure to take at least 220 milligrams of DHA in pill form. According to the American Heart Association, people with documented coronary heart disease are advised to consume about 1 gram of EPA and DHA per day.

-- ARA

New Research: Help for psoriatic arthritis

Medications or biologic agents that target T-cells –– white blood cells involved in the body’s immune system –– appear to offer significant benefit to patients suffering from psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that affects up to 48 percent of patients with the skin disease psoriasis. About 7.5 million Americans, or roughly 2.2 percent of the population, have psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes red, flaky skin.

-- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Did You Know?

February is American Heart Month, Parent Leadership Month, Pet Dental Health Month and Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

Health Tip: What are pilates?

Pilates involves training the muscles to improve posture and alignment. This exercise heightens body awareness and encourages you to think about how everyday movements are performed. Movements vary from slow and controlled to fast-paced, which improves overall agility, flexibility and strength.

-- Life Fitness

Number to Know

65: The rate of leg and foot amputations among U.S. adults aged 40 who have been diagnosed with diabetes declined by 65 percent between 1996 and 2008, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Children’s Health: More vaccine coverage needed 

Adolescents in the U.S. were not adequately immunized against Hepatitis A in 2009, leaving a large population vulnerable to serious illnesses caused by Hepatitis A infection, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In a study, researchers found states with a vaccination requirement had the highest coverage rates, and adolescents whose health care providers recommended the vaccine were more likely to have received it. Infection with the Hepatitis A virus can lead to serious and prolonged illness, particularly in older children, teens and adults.

Senior Health: How common is arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints, which results in pain, swelling and stiffness. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and it may be caused by an infection, general wear and tear on joints, a broken bone or an autoimmune disease. Osteoarthritis is the most common type and is more likely to occur as you age. About 37 million Americans suffer from arthritis, which is almost 1 out of every 7 people.

-- AARP.org

GateHouse News Service