BOISE – February is American Heart Month and both national agencies and local hospitals want you to pay attention to your heart.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. Since 1963, the president issues a yearly proclamation declaring February as American Heart Month.
President Barack Obama’s proclamation this year included a reminder for all Americans that it is never too early to start taking measures to improve heart health.
“All Americans should be aware of risk factors that can lead to heart disease, including: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and family history,” Obama said in his proclamation. “Practicing everyday habits such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting sodium consumption, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and moderating alcohol intake can reduce these risks.”
Each year, the American Heart Association and campaigns like The Heart Truth, which is aimed at alerting women to the dangers of heart disease, help to raise awareness by using the color red and the red dress icon.
Heart Health Resources
Locally, hospitals like Saint Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus offer classes, online resources and screenings to help you determine your risk and the best way to get healthy.
Saint Alphonsus offers a target heart rate calculator you can use to see whether you’re working at your best level when you’re doing aerobic exercise. You can access that calculator here. Women can also contact St. Al’s women’s heart care program at 367-3555.
St. Luke’s offers a lot of heart smart recipes that you can use for your meals. You can find all those recipes by clicking here, but for a sweet start you can try these low-fat brownies from St. Luke’s Outpatient Dietitian Stacy Beeson, RD, LD:
-¼ cup skim milk
-¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
-1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-½ cup unsweetened cocoa
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-½ teaspoon salt
-1 ¼ cups sugar
-5 tablespoons I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, softened
-½ teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil skim milk in a small saucepan, add chocolate chips and reduce heat. Stir until smooth and remove from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine sugar and margarine and beat with a mixer. Add vanilla and eggs and beat again. Slowly add flour and milk mixtures to the sugar mixture and beat just until mixed. The batter may be tougher than usual brownie batter. Spray a 9” x 9” baking dish with cooking spray and cook for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Yield: 16 servings
Helpful hint: Be careful not to overcook.
Nutrition Facts per brownie: 158 calories (28% from fat), 5g fat (1.6g saturated), 27g carbs, 2g protein.