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American Heart Month: Good Eating for Happy Hearts

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Written by Cindy Yergler, registered dietician and certified diabetes educator at SIU Medicine

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US. Food, exercise and lifestyle often lead to this dismal reality. But, it doesn’t have to – let’s celebrate February as Heart Month & treat our own bodies and hearts with some loving care. Here are some new heart healthy recipes to warm your heart and shake up the winter blahs:

These recipes are from a variety of sources and are in line with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Checkmark recipe guidelines for saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Overall heart healthy eating calls for eating more veggies, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean proteins with omega-fatty acids, and mono & polyunsaturated fatty foods like avocados, nuts & healthy oils/fats (but . . .ONLY  to be eaten in measured amounts ) with no more than 240 mg/sodium per serving, very limited added sugars and significantly less red meat.

Cooks will soon find that most of their traditional recipes do NOT fit into these requirements. If these recommendations seem too extreme, use them as goals to work towards. And, start by paying special attention to measured healthy fats and limited sodium.

For more information on the steps to a heart healthy diet check out the DASH diet guidelines. This diet is considered the only “evidence based” diet plan, meaning that it is scientifically designed, and structured research has determined it to be an effective healthy plan, when eaten in the appropriate calorie level for reducing health risk, i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity among others. For more information on the DASH diet, go to www.dashdiet.org

The body cannot stay healthy without regular care; we have to do our part.  Start today by trying these recipes for a delicious winter meal.

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