February Is National Heart Healthy Month

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Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Our Eastern North Carolina area is known as the “buckle” of the belt of the highest rate of heart disease in the US. Given that designation gives us even more reason to learn how you can prevent heart disease.
You can do a lot to protect your heart and stay healthy. Heart-healthy living involves
understanding your risk, making healthy choices, and taking steps to reduce your chances of getting heart disease, including coronary heart disease, the most common type. By taking preventive measures, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease that could lead to a heart attack. You can also improve your overall health and well-being.
Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can help you reduce the risk of heart disease and its risk factors. Take action to protect your heart by following these tips from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute;

Get Enough Quality Sleep
Lack of sleep or getting poor quality sleep increases the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical conditions. Ideally it is best to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. Choose healthy snacks, stay hydrated with water, and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.

Be More Active
Getting enough physical activity helps to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Sit less, try muscle strengthening activities, or just be active for 10-20 minutes each day. Every little bit helps.

Eat Better
A flexible and balanced eating plan can help lower your high blood pressure and improve your cholesterol. Follow the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. Mix lean cuts of meat, eat fish once or twice a week, and choose vegetables only two or three times per week.

Stop Smoking
Any amount of smoking, even light or occasional smoking, damages your heart and blood vessels.
Set a goal of smoking less and less until you reach your no smoking goal.

Control Cholesterol
Unhealthy levels of cholesterol can lead to high cholesterol, which increases the risk of developing heart disease.

Manage Stress
Easier said than done, right? Learning to manage stress with healthy coping strategies helps improve your emotional and physical health. Use relaxation and meditation methods. Try yoga.

Control Your Blood Pressure

Keep your blood pressure in a healthy range and keep track of your numbers. Blood pressure that is consistently higher that 130/80 can cause serious health problems. Use a blood pressure tracker to keep a record of your numbers.
For more information visit hearttruth.gov
What makes a Heart Healthy Recipe?
Limiting Saturated Fats, like butter, high fat meats, coconut and palm oil, fried foods and full fat dairy, no more than 7% of your calories should come from saturated fats.
Limited Trans Fats, like processed foods that use high amounts of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils to add shelf life. Trans fats have been banned from many food items.
Limit High Sodium Foods, these include salty snacks, restaurant and processed and packaged food. These foods can aggravate blood pressure. Keep your sodium intake below 2,3000 milligrams per day, especially if you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Here are some “Heart Healthy” recipes for you to add to your weekly meal plans.

Onion and Tomato Omelet with Turmeric

(Turmeric is great for inflammation)

  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup diced plum or grape tomato
  • Dash of black pepper

Whisk together eggs and salt.
Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and turmeric; cook 30 seconds or until seeds pop, stirring frequently. Add onions; cook 30 seconds or until soft, stirring frequently. Add tomato; cook 1 minute or until very soft, stirring frequently.
Pour egg mixture into pan; spread evenly. Cook until edges begin to set (about 2 minutes). Slide front edge of spatula between edge of omelet and pan. Gently lift edge of omelet, tilting pan to allow some uncooked egg mixture to come in contact with pan. Repeat procedure on the opposite edge. Continue cooking until center is just set (about 2 minutes). Loosen omelet with a spatula, and fold in half. Carefully slide omelet onto a platter. Cut omelet in half, and sprinkle with black pepper.
Serves 2, each serving contains; Calories 216, Fat 17g., Protein 13g., Carbohydrates 3g., Cholesterol 370mg., Sodium 504mg.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

  • 5 ounces olive oil packed tuna, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • ½ stalk celery, minced
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pour the tuna in a small mixing bowl. Use a fork to break the tuna chunks into very small pieces.
Add the basil, celery, scallions and lemon juice to the bowl. Use the fork to stir all the ingredients together till well mixed.
Add extra virgin olive oil to moisten the tuna to your liking. I usually use between 1 and 2 tbsp.
Season with salt and pepper to taste; sea salt and freshly ground pepper is best. Serve.
Serves 2, each serving contains; Calories 209, Fat 12g., Protein 20g., Carbohydrates 1g.,
Cholesterol 12mg., Sodium 260mg.

Chicken and Asparagus Bake

  • 2, 8 ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 ounces baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise (if you are trying to lower carbs, omit these)
  • 8 ounces carrots, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place chicken on a clean work surface and cover with plastic wrap.
Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken pieces to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Arrange on one half of a large rimmed baking sheet.
Arrange potatoes and carrots in a single layer on the other half of the pan.
Drizzle the chicken and vegetables with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, shallot, mustard, honey and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Remove the pan from the oven; switch the oven to broil.
Stir the potato-carrot mixture; arrange asparagus in the center of the pan.
Spoon the lemon juice-shallot mixture evenly over the chicken and vegetables.
Broil until the chicken and vegetables are lightly browned, asparagus is tender-crisp and a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the chicken registers 165°F, about 10 minutes.
Remove from oven; sprinkle evenly with parsley and dill. Serve with lemon wedges.
Serves 4, each serving contains; Calories 352, Fat 14g., Protein 28g., Carbohydrates 31g.