Who doesn't love February? After all, this oddly spelled month is synonymous with romance, flowers, butterflies in the stomach - and a groundhog for some reason. I would venture to guess that more couples get engaged or married in February than any other time of year. And although I can't back that up with real statistics, we all know that February and our hearts are forever linked.
In fact February, the month of love, is also National Heart Month and as such is dedicated to raising
awareness about heart disease and prevention.
According to the American Heart Association, heart
disease claims more than 17 million lives annually
making it the number one cause of death not only
in America but in the world. Currently, 85.6 million
Americans are battling cardiovascular disease in
some form and more than 370,000 will die this
year as a result.
Heart disease (cardiovascular disease) is conglomeration of ailments and conditions affecting the heart and vascular system and includes coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. While it is true that some individuals are predisposed to heart disease due to genetics or congenital abnormalities of the heart, most heart disease can be attributed to deleterious behaviors like smoking or having a sedentary lifestyle.
Smoking increases blood pressure and is a major risk factor for heart disease. In fact, smokers have a significantly higher risk of heart attack versus non-smokers. Over time, smoking can compromise the lining of the arteries, which can allow for plaque to accumulate along your artery walls. When blood cannot reach your heart, chest pain and heart attack can result.
Another contributing factor to heart disease can be a diet high in saturated fats and salt. This can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease by way of raising blood pressure and increasing triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Instead of fast or artificial food, be sure to incorporate fish, lean meats, vegetables, fruit and whole grains into your meals. Find more on heart healthy nutrition here.
Finally, don’t only rely on your significant other to keep your heart pumping this February. Exercise is a vital component of good heart health. Building beneficial habits like engaging in thirty minutes of exercise a day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking at the back of the lot instead of by the entrance to the grocery store can all go a long way toward better cardiovascular health.
But before you throw your hands in the air, read this: don’t forget to occasionally indulge in dark chocolate which helps to lower blood pressure and alleviate stress. So, you can get your chocolate-fix this Valentine’s Day.
February is the month of love. Love your wife or husband, love those around you and most of all, love your heart.
Matt Baker, PharmD
Brookshire Brothers Pharmacy – Lufkin, TX
February is American Heart Month! What better way to celebrate the heart holiday then to get heart healthy?
Here are some simple tips for heart-healthy eating:
- Use olive oil instead of butter. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and helps lower cholesterol.
- Go nuts! Almonds and walnuts are packed with protein and fiber, and can help lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Pump up potassium! Potassium-rich foods like oranges and low-fat yogurt help control blood pressure.
- Eat more fish! Especially salmon or tuna that are high in Omega-3s. Check out the glazed salmon recipe below for a quick, heart-healthy dinner.
- Add flavor to chicken and fish with fresh herbs (rosemary, dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary) instead of salt, butter, or oil).
Have a Happy and Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day!
Citrus-Honey Glazed Salmon with Wild Rice and Sugar Snap Peas with Toasted Almonds
- ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled, grated
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced, divided
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh or jarred lemon juice (1 lemon), divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless salmon fillets, cut into 4 pieces
- 4 lemons, thinly sliced
- 1 package wild rice mix, cooked according to package directions
- 1 lb fresh sugar snap peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450° F. In a large bowl, combine ginger, ½ of the garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, soy sauce, honey, ½ of the lemon juice, and basil. Add salmon fillets, tossing gently to coat, and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Prepare rice according to instructions on package, excluding any salt, oil, or butter. Cut 8 pieces of aluminum foil; wide enough to fit one piece of salmon and ¼ of the snap peas. Remove fish from marinade and discard remaining marinade. Arrange lemon slices on top and bottom of fish fillet. Place one fish fillet and ¼ of snap peas together on one piece of foil. Cover with another piece of foil and tightly fold together top and bottom edges of foil to create a seal to the steaming pouch. Repeat with remaining fillets and snap peas. Place packets on baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix remaining garlic, ½ tablespoon olive oil, remaining lemon juice, parsley, almonds, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. When packets are finished baking, carefully cut them open. Divide the almond mixture evenly over the snap peas and stir to coat. To serve, place salmon fillets over wild rice and add seasoned snap peas.