Heart Health Matters

Your heart health matters, not just for you, but for the ones you care about and depend on you.

Heart Health Matters

Your heart health matters, not just for you, but for the ones you care about and depend on you.

When it comes to heart disease, the statistics don't lie - but the most encouraging piece of news is that you don't have to be a statistic. No matter what your age, whether you're 20 or 60, you can make lifestyle choices that will lower your risk of heart disease and prevent heart attack and stroke.

The following healthy habits and choices are everyday ways you can lower your risk of heart disease. 

Check Ups & Preventive Screenings

It's important to know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, as high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol can be a key indicator of impending heart disease, heart attack or stroke. With regular checkups from your doctor and having blood pressure and cholesterol screenings you and your doctor can determine if you need to make changes to lower your numbers and lower your risk. The first step is making an appointment with your primary care doctor for a check-up.

Heart healthy lifestyle choices


Your nutrition choices matter and can impact many factors that lead to heart disease including blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. Eating heart healthy is really fairly simple and involves making choices to eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and low-fat, lean meats. 


When it comes to exercise, according to the American Heart Association, 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days a week helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol and keeps your weight down. No matter what your age or ability, there are all kinds of ways you can incorporate physical activity and movement into your everyday lifestyle -- walk to school with your kids, take the stairs instead of the elevator, choose a parking spot at the end of the parking lot, join a walking group, go for a bike ride, take the dog for a walk or jog, swim or do water aerobics at the local rec center.

Quit Smoking

Smoking not only increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, but also significantly reduces your ability to recover from a cardiac event or stroke when one occurs. Make the choice to quit and along with a long list of other health benefits, you cut your risk of heart disease in half. We know quitting is hard, so if you're ready to quit there are a number of support programs available. Learn more about our smoking cessation program or find more help from the American Heart Association quit smoking resource.

One of the keys to a healthy and nutritious day is starting it in a healthy and nutritious way. Breakfast is what gets your metabolism started each morning, so it's important not to skip it. Get your day started with these easy and healthy breakfasts.

Sunny Sunday Scramble for 2 
Sauté: 2 tbs each of celery, black olives, mushrooms, green onions, and 6 cherry tomatoes. 
Add 3 eggs + 1/2 cup Egg Beaters and scramble together. 
Fold in 1/4 avocado and serve. 
Total calories: 193 each 

*Optional additions to Sunday Scramble: 
1 slice whole grain toast (80cal) 
1 tsp margarine (33cal) 
1/2 peach (40cal) 
Total calories each: 346 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Breakfast 
Wheat Berry Toast (80cal) 
2 tsp Canola margarine (66cal) 
1 tbs peanut butter (100cal) 
1 tbs Simply Fruit (40cal) 
1 hard-boiled egg (70cal) 
Total Calories: 356 

Better Egg McMuffin 
Whole grain English Muffin (120cal) 
1 MorningStar sausage patty (80cal) 
1 slice low fat cheese (40cal) 
1/2 cup Egg Beaters (60cal) 
1 Medium banana (100cal) 
T otal calories: 400 cal 

Smart Start Bagel Breakfast 
Sautéed green onions/spinach/shredded zucchini (25cal) in 
2 tbs olive oil (60cal) 
Add scrambled 2 Egg Beaters (150cal) 
Whole grain Smart Bagel (110cal) with 
2 tsp lite butter (35cal) 
Total calories: 380

Yogi Berry Breakfast 
8 oz plain fat free Greek yogurt (120cal) 
2 tsp Josephs Sugar Free Syrup (6cal) 
1 cup strawberries and blueberries (90cal) 
1/4 cup Kashi granola (60cal) 
2 tbsp ground walnuts (100cal) 
Total calories: 376 

Club Breakfast 
1 fried egg in 1/2 tbs lite butter (100cal) 
1 oz Canadian bacon (52 cal) 
Whole grain English muffin (120cal) 
1/8 sliced avocado (45cal) 
Side of orange slices (60cal) 
Total calories: 377 

Fruit Smoothie for 2 
1/4 cup each blueberries/strawberries/blackberries/raspberries (80cal) 
1/2 cup Naked Straw/Banana juice (62cal) 
1/2 cup Vanilla soy milk (45cal) 
2 tbs each ground flax (60cal)/hemp seed (112cal) 
2 scoop light protein powder (300cal) 
Total calories: 659 / 329.5 each 

Oatmeal Deluxe 
1 cup oatmeal (160cal) 
2 tbs raisins +2 tbs cranberries (60cal) 
2 tbs walnuts (45cal) 
1/2 vanilla Greek yogurt (60cal) 
1 tsp Flaxseed meal (20cal) 
Total calories: 345

    Even snacks and desserts can be healthier when you use her suggestions to cut out fat and calories in your recipes.

    1. Substitute non-fat, plain Greek yogurt for sour cream or buttermilk. Not only do you reduce fat, you add protein.
    2. Substitute applesauce in place of half of the oil or half of the sugar in your recipe.
    3. Use low fat or fat free cream cheese in place of regular cream cheese.
    4. Use Egg Beaters in place of eggs to reduce calories and cholesterol.

    Main Entree Ideas 
    The main lunch item is important and should be high in protein, low in fat and be tasty so they'll be anxious to eat all of it. Try:

    • Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein, so works as a main lunch item. Ideally, use 6 ounces of the plain with fresh cut fruit or Simply Fruit Black Cherry Preserves as a topping. There are a variety of brands that offer fruit with the yogurt as well. For a non-sweet option, add 1 teaspoon Simply Organic French Onion Dip seasoning to 6 ounces of plain yogurt with carrot sticks to dip.
    • Hummus with Pretzels. Hummus is another protein packed item, and kids typically like it when they try it. Pair with low-salt pretzels and veggies for dipping.
    • Sandwich Thins. Most stores now sell multigrain, thin sandwich buns that taste great. Spread with low-fat mayo or hummus, then add egg salad, tuna salad or chicken salad and cut in quarters.
    • Cookie Cutter Sandwich. Make an almond butter and honey sandwich on whole wheat bread. Then cut out with a favorite shaped cookie cutter.
    • Roll Ups. Spread light cream cheese or hummus and layer with turkey and fresh spinach. Roll and cut in slices.

    Side Item Ideas 
    Keep these servings smaller, so your child doesn't eat them in place of the main item.

    • Fresh Fruits: Apples, bananas, pears and other fruits are a perfect addition and come in their own packaging.
    • Rice Crackers with Cheese: Rice crackers (Blue Diamond is a good brand) with light Laughing Cow cheese are an excellent combination. One small round of the cheese will be enough for four to eight crackers.
    • Snack Mix: Mix up a homemade snack mix with some of their favorites including dried fruits, low-salt pretzels, cereal and nuts.
    • Instead of Chips: Don't use small pre-packaged bags of chips. Instead purchase an organic brand chip or cracker, and fill a snack sized back with 4 to 8 chips or crackers. Organic brands are typically lower in sodium and don't contain genetically modified grains. Chips and crackers aren't terribly nutritious so remember portion control.

    Desserts are ok, just pack smaller portions of items that are made with whole ingredients and avoid items with artificial sweeteners.

    • Puddings: Kozy Shack Puddings are healthier pre-packed puddings made with real ingredients and only about 120 calories each.
    • Canned Fruits: Peaches or pears packed in light syrup are a sweet treat.
    • Cookies and Treats: Cookies and other treats are ok, but pack one instead of multiple.

    Avoid sugary drinks.

    • Milk: Milk is important for growing kids. They can often buy milk at school or brands like Horizon Organics sells regular, vanilla and chocolate milks in boxes that can be taken to school.
    • Instead of Juice: Make a homemade "Arnold Palmer" mixing unsweetened iced tea with a little bit of lemonade in a thermos or water bottle.

    Stress, including holiday stress, automatically causes most human beings to crave high energy food or comfort food. (We don't crave carrots, lettuce and celery with nothing on them after a difficult day.) These carbohydrates are a powerful antidepressant which make it difficult to lose weight and stay on a diet." 

    Tips for managing emotions without food:

    • Awareness. Be aware of when you eat when you are not hungry. Are you eating out of habit, while driving, on the computer or watching TV.
    • Try not to eat while you are busy doing something else. When you do eat, eat mindfully and enjoy. Stop when you are full.
    • Do I eat when I am bored, anxious, frustrated, down and/or depressed or angry? If you are having this feelings or even feeling overwhelmed with holiday stress, calm down by taking a walk, or doing something pleasurable that is not about consumption of food or beverage.
    • Holidays aren't always full of friends and family. If you are feeling lonely or down, activity and exercise can help lift your mood.
    • Work on having positive thoughts and know that bad moods don't last.
    • Manage your stress and take care of yourself.
    • Many people are self medicating a clinical depression may self-medicate with food.If you are stuck in an emotion, depressed or irritable daily, seek professional help.

    A goal is a promise you make to yourself. Writing down your health and fitness goals helps you follow through with your commitment and be successful at achieving them. Answer the following questions and keep them in a place where you can see them regularly throughout the day:

    1. The healthy change I want to make is?
    2. The steps I I will take to achieve my goals are?
    3. The things that could make it difficult to reach my goal are?
    4. How will I overcome this barrier?
    5. Support and resources I need to reach my goal are?
    6. On a scale of 1-10, how confident am I that I can reach my goal?

    According to America On The Move walking an extra 2,000 steps and reducing 100 calories each day have positive effects on health and can effectively stop weight gain.

    • Circle around the block once when you go outside to get the mail
    • Walk around the aisles of the grocery store before shopping
    • Drive or walk to a nearby high school track, 4 laps equal 2,000 steps
    • Make several trips up and down the stairs to do laundry or chores
    • Pass by the drive-thru window and walk into the bank or restaurant
    • Listen to music or books while walking
    • Accompany your children on their walk to school
    • Take your dog for a walk
    • Pace around your house while talking on the phone
    • Benefit a good cause by joining a charity walk
    • Refill your coffee cup at the farthest machine from your work station
    • Designate 10 minutes of your lunch break for a quick walk
    • People who smoke are twice as likely to develop heart disease or to have a stroke. Even smoking 4 cigarettes a day increases your risk by 50 percent.
    • Cigarettes contain 2,500 chemicals when NOT lit, and greater than 4,000 when lit. These chemicals cause cancer.
    • Smoking affects your body's ability to heal in all situations.
    • Nicotine increases heart rate, blood pressure and blood clots. It also increases "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and lowers "good" cholesterol (HDL).
    • Smoking damages your circulation and immune system and oxygen is changed to carbon monoxide in your blood.
    • Cigar smokers are still at risk even if you don't inhale. One cigar has as much tar as one pack of cigarettes.
    • Help protect your family and frients. A person standing 20 inches from a burning cigarette may inhale 10 times more cancer-causing chemicals than the smoker.
    • Non-smokers living with smokers have a 30 percent increase of risk of heart attack and lung cancer.

    When you QUIT Smoking:

    • 20 minutes after quitting: blood pressure decreases and the temperature of your hands and feet return to normal.
    • 8 hours after quitting: carbon monoxide levels decrease.
    • 2 to 12 weeks after quitting: circulation improves and lung function increases.
    • 1 to 9 months after quitting: coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.
    • 1 year after quitting: risk of heart disease is cut in half.
    • 5 to 15 years after quitting: stroke rate is reduced, lung cancer death rate decreases to about half and risk of various cancers decrease.

    If you're ready to talk about quitting, resources are ready to help