Since February is American Heart Month, this is a perfect time to focus on your heart and learn about the seven simple steps that you can take to start living your best life. Life’s Simple 7 was designed by the American Heart Association with the goal of improved health. These measures have one unique thing in common: Any person can make these changes, the steps are not expensive to take, and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference.
Life’s Simple 7 includes: get active, eat better, lose weight, stop smoking, control cholesterol, manage blood pressure and reduce blood sugar. Go to http://mylifecheck.heart.org. The first step is to “Get Your Assessment” by clicking on that bar at the top of the page. In order to move through the assessment quickly and easily, you need to know your numbers. Knowing your numbers is an important part of keeping your heart healthy. To get a quick overview of the numbers you need to know and the recommended goals, refer to the following chart:
Factor: Total cholesterol
Goal: Below 200 mg/dL
Factor: LDL (“Bad”) cholesterol
Goal: Below 70 mg/dL
Optimal for people at very high risk for heart disease
Below 100 mg/dL
Optimal for people at risk for heart disease
100 to 129 mg/dL
Near optimal/above optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL
160 to 189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above
Factor: HDL (“Good”) Cholesterol
60 mg/dL and above Best
50 - 59 mg/dL Better
Below 40 mg/dL
Below 50 mg/dL
Goal: Below 150 mg/dL
Factor: Blood pressure
Goal: Below 120/80 mmHg
Factor: Fasting glucose
Goal: Below 100 mg/dL
Factor: Body Mass Indes (BMI)
Goal: Below 25 Kg
Factor: Waist circumference
Less than 40 inches (men)
Less than 35 inches (women)
If you don’t know your numbers, it would be wise to have a Total Lipid Blood Profile test done at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Heart Fair, which is 7 a.m.-10 a.m. Feb. 13. The cost is $20 with registration received by Friday or $25 the day of the fair. That’s a savings of more than $150. Remember, DO NOT eat or drink anything for 10-12 hours prior to having your blood drawn except for water and necessary medications. Go to www.lmh.org for a registration form.
Q: What’s the best way to measure your waist?
A: To measure your waist circumference:
• Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hipbone.
• Pull the tape measure until it fits snugly around you but doesn’t push into your skin.
• Make sure the tape measure is level all the way around.
• Relax, exhale and measure your waist — no sucking in your belly!
Q: Do you have any healthy heart recipes that you can share?
A: Wow, there are a ton of great recipes for heart health. The American Heart Association’s Delicious Decisions at www.americanheart.org/deliciousdecisions is loaded with a variety of recipes to try. Also, I just ordered the brand new version of the popular “Keep the Beat” classic cookbook for $5 (plus shipping) from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Or, you can go on their Web site at http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/healthyeating and pull up a multitude of recipes. Here’s one from their Web site that may tempt you to pull up more.
Rotini with Spicy Red Pepper and Almond Sauce
8 ounces whole-wheat rotini (spiral) pasta
1/2 cup whole natural almonds, unsalted
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon garlic, roughly chopped (about 2-3 cloves)
1/8 teapsoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried basil or parsley
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions for the shortest recommended time, about 10 minutes. Drain pasta.
While the pasta cooks, toast almonds in a toaster oven or regular oven at 350 degrees until lightly toasted, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, add roasted red peppers and liquid, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, basil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the cooled almonds to the sauce in the processor. Pulse until the almonds are chunky.
After draining the pasta, return to pot. Add almond sauce. Toss until pasta is well-coated. Divide into four equal portions (about 2 cups each).
Nutrition facts per serving: 322 calories, 10 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 383 milligrams sodium, 9 grams total fiber, 12 grams protein, 49 grams carbohydrates, 47 milligrams potassium.
— Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.