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Heart Smart Nutrition

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With February, National Heart Health Month quickly approaching, I wanted to get a jump start on some timely information.  Engage in daily physical activity to improve

your health.  Physical activity increases your metabolic rate, which helps to burn more calories. Plus it helps the heart and lungs function to full capacity.  Exercise also helps raise the body’s blood level of HDL “good” cholesterol.  Burn extra calories, and balance the calories you eat with regular physical activity.  One activity in which most people can participate is walking.  With warmer temperatures approaching in just a few short weeks, walking is more desirable.  There are some good choices for indoor walking, as well, so make an effort to take advantage every chance you get.  Experts recommend achieving at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. (Check with your doctor before you begin any new physical activity program.)

Below are five recommendations that can lead to Heart Smart Nutrition decisions:

1)      Use USDA’s MyPlate.  Eat the recommended servings from each food group (

2)      Attain and maintain a reasonable weight.  Excess weight puts strain on the heart, increasing the chance of a heart attack or stroke.  The only method of maintaining your weight is by eating lower-calorie foods in correct serving sizes, changing eating habits, and becoming more physically fit.

3)      Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains and fruits and vegetables.  Reduce beverage and food intake that are high in sugars, and reduce alcohol intake in meals to reduce excess calories, overweight, and blood triglyceride levels.  Start substituting whole – grain foods for foods high in total fat, saturated/trans fats, and cholesterol. Carbohydrate foods (pasta, rice, and potatoes) may be lower in calories, but the addition of foods high in fat/saturated fat (butter, rich sauces, whole milk, cheese, cream) add calories.

4)      Choose foods low in saturated/trans fats and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat.  Why?  Because fats, especially saturated and trans fat, raise blood cholesterol levels  How much is a moderate amount of fat to eat?  No more than 30% of total calories eaten daily should come from fat.  For someone on 2,000 calorie a day diet, 30% of the total calories = 600 calories from fat.  Trim excess fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry before eating.  Select low-fat versions of dairy products.  Bake, broil, or boil rather than fry.  Limit use of butter, oil, bacon, and salad dressings.

5)      Make Heart Smart choices when planning meals, food shopping, preparing meals, and eating out.  Include physical activities in your daily routine.  Aim for fitness!  Build a healthy base by selecting foods with less fat, saturated/trans-fat, cholesterol, sugars, and alcohol when you are planning, buying, preparing, and eating foods.  Read labels to cut down on purchasing commercially prepared and processed foods made with saturated fat.

Overweight, inactivity, high cholesterol/triglycerides in the blood are risk factors that can be partly controlled by making wiser choices.

Last Call for Master Wellness Volunteer Applications

The Master Wellness Volunteer program equips volunteers with reliable information in the areas of nutrition, food safety, child nutrition, and other topics.  Upon completing 40 hours of training, volunteers agree to give back 40 hours of service through assisting with workshops, 4-H events, health fairs, and other tasks.  The training is perfect for retired individuals, workforce employees interested in a worksite wellness program, college students, homemakers, and others interested in learning and helping others.  The training will take place at the Extension Office on five consecutive Tuesdays, February 3, 10, 17, 24, and March 3.  However, we must meet a minimum of five participants in order for the class to make.  Currently, I have three applications, so if you are interested, please don’t delay!  Applications are available at the Extension office, or you may call us at 903-885-3443 and we can mail or e-mail a copy.


Closing Thought

Act as if what you do makes a difference – IT DOES!


Johanna Hicks

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Family & Consumer Sciences

1200-B W. Houston

P.O.Box 518

Sulphur springs, TX 75483

903-885-3443 – phone

903-439-4909 – Fax

[email protected]

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Author: KSST Webmaster

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