Heart disease claims the lives of more than 600,000 Americans each year. But preventing heart disease is as easy as following the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7,” steps a person can take to improve heart health.
• Get active: Nearly 70 percent of Americans do not get the physical activity they need. By getting just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, five days per week, a person can almost guarantee a healthier life and lower his or her risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
• Eat better: A healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. A heart-healthy diet includes foods that are low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, and foods that are high in whole grain fiber, lean protein and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
• Lose weight: Having too much fat puts a person at higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. Anyone with a Body Mass Index of 30 or is at significant risk for heart health problems.
• Quit smoking: Smoking not only damages the lungs, but the entire circulatory system, increasing one’s risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Quitting smoking is one of the best things someone can do for his or her health.
• Control cholesterol: When someone has too much bad cholesterol, it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque in your veins and arteries. Controlling cholesterol gives arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages that can lead to heart disease and stroke.
• Manage blood pressure: High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. Keeping blood pressure within healthy ranges reduces the strain on the heart, arteries and kidneys, which keeps a person healthier for longer.
• Reduce blood sugar: Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves, and people with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Keeping blood sugar levels at a healthy range, below 100, can help prevent a person’s chance of developing heart disease.
Source: The American Heart Association
Carol Schimmer is a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager with Providence Medical Center.
Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 to 6 large shallots, chopped
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces ground white turkey meat, broken into small chunks
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 small bunch kale, coarsely chopped (about 4 packed cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, carrots and bell pepper and saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown and soften slightly, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the ground turkey and stir until the meat turns white and begins to color very slightly around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the herbes de Provence and stir, 1 minute.
Add 4 cups broth, tomatoes and rice. Bring to a boil.
Stir in the kale and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with parsley and Parmesan, if using, and serve.
Per Serving (based on a 4-serving yield): Calories: 341; Total Fat: 11.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams; Protein: 27 grams; Total carbohydrates: 37 grams; Sugar: 7 grams; Fiber: 5 grams; Cholesterol: 27 milligrams; Sodium: 740 milligrams