Krupa’s Korner – (1/30/2023)

Krupa's Korner Heart Health

February is American Heart Month

It’s February, also known as American Heart Month, a time when everyone can focus on their cardiovascular health. President Lyndon B. Johnson first declared February as American Heart Month in 1964. According to the American Health Association in 2019, coronary heart disease (CHD) was the leading cause (41.3%) of deaths attributable to Cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the United States, followed by other CVD (17.3%), stroke (17.2%), high blood pressure (11.7%), heart failure (9.9%), and diseases of the arteries (2.8%). Even though it’s so prevalent, 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. Following a heart-healthy eating plan and being physically active are some ways to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Understand Your Risk for Heart Disease

Your risk depends on many factors, some of which are changeable and others that are not. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight or obesity, prediabetes or diabetes, smoking, lack of exercise, family history of early heart disease, history of preeclampsia, and unhealthy diet. Some risk factors cannot be changed. These include your age, sex, and a family history of early heart disease. Many others can be modified. For example, being more physically active and eating healthy are important steps for your heart health. You can make the changes gradually, one at a time. But making them is very important.

After menopause, women are more likely to get heart disease, in part because estrogen hormone levels drop. Women who have gone through early menopause, either naturally or because they have had a hysterectomy, are twice as likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not gone through menopause.

heart healthy diet

Choose Heart-Healthy Foods

Heart-healthy eating involves choosing certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, while limiting others, such as saturated fats, salt, alcohol, and added sugars. Your doctor may also recommend the DASH or Mediterranean eating plan because it has been proven to lower high blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood. 

Foods to Eat:

  • Vegetables such as leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, cabbage), broccoli, and carrots
  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, grapes, and prunes
  • Whole grains such as plain oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-grain bread or tortillas
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods such as milk, cheese, or yogurt
  • Protein-rich foods: Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, and trout), Lean meats such as 95% lean ground beef or pork tenderloin or skinless chicken or turkey, Eggs, Nuts, seeds, and soy products (tofu), Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans
  • Oils and foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: Canola, olive oils

Foods to Limit:

  • Sodium: consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day
  • Saturated fats: milk, cheese, butter, meats such as pork, beef, lamb, and poultry
  • Added Sugars: Some foods, such as fruit, contain natural sugars. Added sugars do not occur naturally in foods but instead are used to sweeten foods and drinks. They include brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, raw sugar, and sucrose.
  • Alcohol: Can add calories to your daily diet and possibly cause you to gain weight, raise your blood pressure and levels of triglycerides and fats in your blood and contribute to or worsen heart failure in some people, such as some people who have cardiomyopathy.

Healthy Weight and Physical Activity

A healthy weight for adults is generally a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. The more body fat that you have and the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and certain cancers. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you are at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. A waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men increases your risk. Health professionals recommend losing 5% to 10% of your initial weight over 6 months. A loss of just 3% to 5% of weight loss can lower triglyceride and glucose levels in your blood, as well as your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Losing more than 3% to 5% of your weight can improve blood pressure readings, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

Participate in aerobic exercise for at least a few minutes at a time throughout the week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that each week, adults get at least: 

  • 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 
  • 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 
  • A combination of both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity. Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none.  

Wear Red Day

Celebrate National Wear Red Day: Friday, February 3rd

National Wear Red Day is the first Friday in February. Wear red and encourage others to do the same. Help raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and is largely preventable.

Want more?

Check out our previous edition of Krupa's Korner!

Krupa is our onsite registered dietitian and she is available to help Gatorcare members achieve a healthier lifestyle! It’s not about dieting or counting calories but rather building a healthier relationship with food.

Peanut Butter


Schedule a nutrition consultation today!

Krupa is our onsite registered dietitian and she is available to help Gatorcare members achieve a healthier lifestyle! It’s not about dieting or counting calories but rather building a healthier relationship with food.

krupa in the kitchen