February is Heart Health Month
by Cecelia Hostilo, Columnist
Feb 06, 2013 | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The month of February centers on the heart. As Valentine’s Day approaches, our thoughts are filled with visions of chocolates, flowers and special meals. Warm drinks, cozy fires and time with family and friends bring comfort to the soul. The care of our physical hearts is just as important! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is a result of heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association have put together a campaign called “Life’s Simple Seven.” These are simple steps that people can take to protect their heart health.

1. Stop smoking. Smoking is the number one modifiable cause of death and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. As soon as you stop smoking, your risk starts to drop and in time will be the same as if you never smoked.

2. Maintain a healthy weight. If you have too much body fat, especially at the waist, you have a higher risk for health problems. A BMI of less than 25 is optimal for cardiovascular health.

3. Get active. People who exercise have better health than those who do not. A recent American Heart Association survey shows that fewer than two out of every ten Americans get the recommended 150 minutes or more of moderate physical activity each week. Getting 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity benefits your heart.

4. Eat better. A heart-healthy diet takes into account proper energy balance. Eating for good health means choosing lots of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, and fat-free or low fat dairy products, while avoiding foods and drinks with high sodium or added sugar. Learn about healthy eating through credible sources such as universities, professional networks or government agencies.

5. Control cholesterol. When there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, you are at major risk for heart disease and stroke. You should keep your total cholesterol under 200 mg/dL. LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL. HDL cholesterol should be greater than 40 mg/dL. Triglycerides should range from 150-199 mg/dL. Aim to eat less than 300 mg of dietary cholesterol each day by reading food labels and choosing foods low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.

6. Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. It makes your heart work harder, which puts more strain on the heart and arteries. One out of every three American adults has high blood pressure, and many are unaware. Some people have a greater risk of high blood pressure. The risks factors include a family history of high blood pressure, men over age 40, women past menopause, African American heritage, obesity and physical inactivity. Blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHG. Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

7. Control blood sugar. High blood sugar encourages the growth of the plaque in your arteries and increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. A healthy non-diabetic adult should have a blood sugar reading of 100 mg/dL or less.

Find a medical group you trust and where you feel comfortable to establish a wellness file. An annual exam is a great way to prevent disease and illness. Have your physician review a healthy weight range, and see if you fall in those parameters. Find out if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, and if you do, seek effective treatment. Get screened for pre-diabetes, especially if you are overweight. Practice control of your heart health by following your doctor’s prescription instructions.

Check out www.heart.org for more valuable information in reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Don’t forget that the Trigg County Biggest Loser Community Weight Loss Challenge is continuing. Our next class in the “Lighten Up!” series will be held on Friday, February 7, 2013, from 5:00-6:30 PM at the Trigg County Extension Office. We will be presenting ways to incorporate whole grains into our meals. Call the Extension Office at 270-522-3269 before 4:00 PM on February 6th to register. Classes are free and open to anyone in the community!

For more information, contact Cecelia Hostilo at the Trigg County Extension Office by calling 522-3269.

Information for this article was obtained from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association website, www.heat.org.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

Southwestern Rice and Pinto Bean Salad

1 cup brown rice

2 cups water

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

1 large clove garlic, crushed and peeled

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed

8 scallions, trimmed and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 medium bell pepper (green, yellow, orange or red), chopped (about 1 cup)

Combine rice and water (2 cups water if using brown basmati) in a 3-quart saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all the water has been absorbed, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat; let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Spread the rice out on a large baking sheet until cooled to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast cumin in a small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and lightly toasted, 1 minute for ground cumin. Transfer to a blender or food processor and let cool for several minutes. Add oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper and process until the garlic is finely chopped.

Transfer the rice to a large bowl and toss with beans, scallions and bell pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Yield: 6 (1 1/3 cup) servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 305 calories; 11 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 8 g monounsaturated fat; 121 mg sodium; 45 g total carbohydrate; 8 g fiber; 9 g protein

Quick Vegetable Sauté

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

4 cups mixed frozen vegetables, such as corn, carrots and green beans

1/2 teaspoon dried dill or tarragon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in frozen vegetables. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in dill (or tarragon), salt and pepper.

Yield: 4 (3/4-cup) servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 107 calories; 4 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 3 g monounsaturated fat; 178 mg sodium; 17 g total carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g protein

Lemon and Dill Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1-1 1/4 pounds)

Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil, divided

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons flour

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth, flour, 1 tablespoon dill and lemon juice in a measuring cup and add to pan. Cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan; reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 170 calories; 6 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 4 g monounsaturated fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 339 mg sodium; 3 g carbohydrate; 24 g protein
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