By Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent
HEALTHY HEART IN TIME OF COVID
Keeping your heart healthy and protected is always important – even more so for those with heart conditions or other medical conditions that my weaken your heart. Cholesterol and blood pressure issues, as well as arrythmias or cardiomyopathy, are heart condition that can make contracting COVID19 more serious.
Your heart is the most essential “worker” you have. It beats more than 110,000 beats a day and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood throughout your body. This fist size muscle is so important, it only makes sense to keep I healthy and happy. To help support and improve your heart, try some simple changes that everyone can make.
- Variety and veggies: Eating balanced and nutritious meals daily can help you reduce sodium and sugar intake, helping to maintain or lose excess weight, manage your blood pressure, control cholesterol. The nutrient dense foods that we consume help in providing those vitamins that support our bodies. Eating a colorful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables helps support health and our immune system.
- Watch portion sizes: One of our volunteers recently stated that people don’t understand portion sizes. Looking at some of the portions served and eaten, it is easy to see that many folks are getting too many calories due to the large portion sizes. When considering portions, remember MyPlate: visually divide the plate in half. One-half should be fruits and non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth should be protein, and the final fourth could be a grain or starchy vegetable. Add a serving of milk (1 cup milk or 1 ounce of cheese), and you will have healthy portions. Other options are to ask for a take-out box when dining out. Put half of your meal in the box before you begin eating, then eat what is left on your plate – two meals for the price of one! My husband and I typically share an entrée. We get plenty of food and avoid overeating!
- Keep moving: Staying physically active can also improve and support your heart It strengthens your heart so that it can efficiently pump blood throughout the body. A stronger heart also help to keep your blood pressure under control. Try taking a brisk walk outdoors daily or keep active around the house. Not only are you keeping physical distance, but improving circulation to help reduce stress.
- Mask, wash, and distance: Always remember to follow the CDC guidelines for COVID19. Wash your hands frequently, continue to wear a mask, stay six feet apart from others when possible, and avoid large crowds. Check out Extension’s resources at https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/coronavirus. You’ll find lots of great information!
If you would like to try new recipes throughout the week to add variety, visit www.dinnertonight.org for delicious and healthy recipes that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium.
Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing – Harriet Braiker