February is the month for hearts – not only because of Valentine's Day, but because it's American Heart Month. And heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the U.S. So as February comes to a close, we want to remind you of five simple tips to be heart healthy no matter what month it is!
Tip 1: Increase physical activity: One of the best ways to lower risk. Try to incorporate one more physical activity into your daily routine. It could be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or doing a family outdoor activity to de-stress after a long day.
Tip 2: Eat the recommended amount of fiber everyday (Women: 25 grams/day, Men: 38 grams/day): Fiber can help lower heart disease risk by substituting for foods high in saturated fat… like having oatmeal at breakfast instead of a breakfast sandwich. Also, fiber lowers cholesterol levels by binding to it and escorting it out of the body. Eating fruits and vegetables, nuts, and high fiber cereals are great ways to increase the amount of fiber you eat.
Tip 3: DASH Diet: This is a diet plan that is low in salt and high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. It was designed specifically for those with high blood pressure but has been proven to help lower the risk factors for heart disease. The diet is low in fat and rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium. Although the DASH diet is formulated for those with hypertension it is a great way for the whole family to eat.
Tip 4: Drink milk every day: Consuming plenty of potassium-rich foods, like milk, has proven to lower risk of heart disease. Whether you have a serving of milk with your high-fiber cereal or a glass with an afternoon snack, make it part of your families’ daily routine to help lower your risk. It also gives your entire family nine essential nutrients they need every day, including three that the USDA says we need more of – calcium, potassium and vitamin D.
Tip 5: Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can cause many different problems, including a drop in blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. Many Americans walk around mildly dehydrated and those of us living in the wonderful desert are at an increased risk. Placing a water cup by the bed and having a refillable bottle all day will help remind us to drink more water. Let your kids pick out their own reusable bottle to use at school and home and they will enjoy drinking more water!
With these simple steps, you can love your heart year round! If you'd like for more information on American Heart Month and facts about preventing heart disease, The American Heart Association and The U.S. Center for Disease Control are great resources.
And here is a delicious, hearty and heart-healthy recipe for your family to enjoy!
Heart-Healthy White Chili
Makes 8 Servings
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups lowfat Shamrock milk
1 15-ounce can white hominy, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup Shamrock Farms Light sour cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a large stock pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add chopped green chilies, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano; cook stirring, about 1 minute. Add broth and milk to the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring. Stir in hominy, beans and browned chicken. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.
To serve, stir 1/4 cup of the cilantro into chili. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with remaining sour cream and remaining chopped cilantro.
Per serving: 240 calories; 4 g fat; 0.5 g saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol; 16 g protein; 34 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 460 mg sodium; 105 mg calcium.