Make small changes to reduce heart risk

Becky B. Gautreaux
--Submitted Photo

By BECKY B. GAUTREAUX, RD, LDN LSU AgCenter — St. Mary Parish Nutrition Agent

February is National Heart Health Month and it’s designed to promote awareness to Americans that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States. Lifestyle changes are the No. 1 way to decrease your risk of heart disease.
Making small changes and being aware of important lab test numbers can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Lifestyle Changes
Healthy habits like exercising and eating healthy can help you reduce your risk for developing a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Follow these steps for a healthy heart.
—Eat a nutritious balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fiber.
—Attain and maintain a healthy weight.
—Aim to eat less than 1,500mg of sodium per day.
—Minimize the amount of cholesterol, total fat, saturated fat and trans fat you eat daily.
—Remember, total fat intake should be 25 to 30 percent or less of your total calorie intake; saturated fat intake less than 7 to 10 percent; and trans fat 1 percent or less of your total caloric intake.
—Eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, 100 percent whole wheat, and oats. These are nutritious, high in fiber, free of cholesterol and low in fat and rich in antioxidants that are heart protective.
—Do not smoke. Also, reduce your exposure to second hand smoke.
—Get fit! Exercise regularly 3 to 5 days of the week.
—Lean protein is essential (4 to 8 ounces per day of lean meat, fish, poultry and no more than 3 eggs per week).
—Be sure to consume fish at least twice a week, especially those high in omega 3-fatty acids (tuna, herring, salmon and mackerel).
—Bake, broil, grill and steam more often.
In addition to making lifestyle changes, being aware of important lab numbers and getting them checked is beneficial to your health. You should get your cholesterol checked annually.
Total Cholesterol (less than 200 mg/dL):
LDL (bad) cholesterol — optimal is less than 100; above optimal is 100 to 129; borderline high is 130 to 159; and high is 160 and higher.
HDL (good) cholesterol — 50 mg/dL or higher.
Triglycerides — less than 150 mg/dL.
Blood Pressure (120/80 or lower is normal):
Pre-hypertension is 120/89 to 139/89; Stage 1 hypertension is 140/90 to 159/99; and Stage 2 hypertension is 160/100 and higher.
Here’s a great recipe to get you started. Brought to you by the American Heart Association:
Prep time: 20 minutes
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick medallions
2 tsp. canola oil
¼ cup apple cider
1 Tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. cider vinegar
Mix chili powder, salt and ground chipotle in a small bowl. Sprinkle over both sides of pork.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add cider, syrup and vinegar to the pan.
Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium and cook thoroughly, turning pork occasionally to coat, until the sauce is reduced to a thick glaze, 1 to 3 minutes. Serve pork drizzled with the glaze.
Serves: 4
Remember, eat healthy and exercise often to be heart healthy!
Information is from the American Heart Association.
For more information contact Becky B. Gautreaux, RD, LDN St. Mary Parish Nutrition Agent at the St. Mary Parish LSU AgCenter office at 500 Main St., Room 314, in Franklin. She can be reached at 337-828-4100, ext. 300, or via email at

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