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February is American Heart Month

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

February 12, 2020

February is “American Heart Month,” a perfect time to raise awareness and learn more about how our lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. In this bulletin, we will discuss the main topics the American Heart Month addresses:


· physical activity

· healthy food tips

· tracking your heart health

· management of stress, sleep, and smoking


Being Physically Active

Physical activity may reduce your cardiovascular disease risk and can bring you additional health benefits related to brain health, bone density, balance and coordination, reduction in cancer risk, and fall-related injuries. Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.


Healthy Food Tips

Here are healthy food tips that may reduce your cardiovascular disease risk.


5 tips when cooking at home:

1. Limit added sugars to no more than 36 g sugar (9 tsps.) for men and 25 g sugar (6 tsps.) for women.

2. Make half of your plate veggies, one-quarter whole grains, and one-quarter lean proteins like beans or white meats such as fish and poultry.

3. Choose low-fat cooking methods, such as baking, broiling, roasting, sautéing, poaching, and steaming and non-fat or low-fat dairy products.

4. Use heart-healthy fats like olive oil and sunflower oil instead of solid fats like butter, coconut oil, or shortening.

5. Keep your salt intake to less than 2300 mg per day. Try to choose foods with less than 140 mg sodium per serving size.


5 tips when eating out:

1. Watch your food portions by bringing half of your plate home.

2. Choose water instead of sugary drinks.

3. Prefer low-fat cooking methods.

4. Order dressings and sauces on the side.

5. Share your dessert with somebody.


Tracking Your Heart Health

Track your heart health by keeping a log of your blood pressure, healthy weight goals, and physical activity. Many current phones have a health and wellness app already installed to help with this.


Managing Stress, Sleep, and Smoking

· Stress management: Exercise regularly, learn and practice relaxation, practice a hobby, and eat well.

· Sleep routine: Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual and stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time.

· Quit smoking: Tell a friend you’re quitting smoking and ask for their support. 


Visit the American Heart Association’s website for more information about how to reduce your cardiovascular disease risk  


The recipe of the week comes from the American Heart Association: Spinach-Stuffed Baked Salmon



· 1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)

· 2 oz. spinach

· 1 tsp. grated lemon zest

· 1/4 cup chopped, roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained if bottled

· 1/4 cup fresh basil (coarsely chopped)

· 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

· Cooking spray

· 4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each), rinsed, patted dry

· 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, lowest sodium available

· 2 Tbsp. plain dry breadcrumbs, lowest sodium available

· 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled

· 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

· 1/8 tsp. pepper



In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the spinach and lemon zest for 2 minutes or until the spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the roasted peppers, basil, and walnuts. Let cool for 5 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.


Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each fillet to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful to not cut through to the other side. With a spoon or your fingers, carefully stuff a 1/2 cup spinach mixture into each fillet. Transfer to the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mustard over the fish.


In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the fish. Lightly spray the top with cooking spray.

Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the fish is the desired doneness and the filling is heated through.

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