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How to live a heart healthy lifestyle

By Staff | Feb 15, 2011

Teri Perry, RN from Allenwood is a volunteer with Susquehanna Health. She handed out heart healthy recipes and journals to record foods and calories at the annual Follow Your Heart Day at the Life Center in the Lycoming Mall last Thursday. Kathryn McKernan Patetta, RD, LDN, CDE with Susquehanna Health's Diabetes and Nutrition Care Center shows the 4 new food groups that make up the Power Plate.

MUNCY – A day long event was held last Thursday at the Life Center at the Lycoming Mall to recognize American Heart Month. Free health screenings were provided throughout the day on detecting abdominal aortic aneurysms, high blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels, breathing tests, stroke screening, total cholesterol and glucose, weight and BMI, and vision screening.

Also two free educational programs, one on healthy eating and the other on strength training for your heart were presented. Sponsored by Susquehanna Health, this is an annual event each year according to Robin Dawson, director of the Life Center.

A registration table was set up for drawings of $100 and $50 gift cards from the Lycoming Mall, Giant and Weis stores and the Susquehanna Striders program. The drawing will be held next week. Participants were able to collect educational information on the benefits of strength training for the heart, cholesterol and heart health, lowering high blood pressure, and smoking cessation.

Heart healthy recipe cards were given out by Susquehanna Heath’s Heart and Vascular Institute at each table and were part of a 21 day kick start program to eat plant based foods. Kathryn McKernan Patetta, a registered dietician with Susquehanna Health announced, “You will see a major difference in your health by following this plan.” Referring to Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s book and research, “The China Study”, it has been proven that there is a definite correlation between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The study revealed that people who ate more animal based foods got the most chronic diseases compared to those who ate mostly plant based foods. They were healthier and tended to avoid chronic diseases.

Patetta further explained that there are virtually no nutrients in animal based foods that are not better provided by plants with the exception of B12. This is found only in animal products and fortified foods, but can easily be supplemented with 5 micrograms per day. “Prevention is key for heart disease and studies show it can be reversed,” she said. One in three people have some sort of heart disease.

Many, many medical conditions can be prevented with healthy nutritional foods. Patetta encouraged a well attended group of healthy minded individuals to start implementing plant based nutrition when it comes to meal planning. For example, introduce “Meatless Mondays,” or substitute meats with other high protein foods such as beans or lentils.

Showing the new Power Plate, she focused on 4 new food groups: grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. Whole grains are important she said, and we should have 8 servings every day. “This combination will support good health across the board, energy levels, and overall well-being,” she said. These foods can lower high cholesterol numbers to help get off any medications. “Also keep vegetable oils to a minimum,” she added.

Avoid enriched and white flours that are stripped and bleached of its natural value. Consume only whole grains. Quinoa is an excellent high protein grain from Peru. Patetta shared a recipe using the grain, ‘Pineapple Quinoa Cashew Stir Fry’ and can be found at Susquehanna Health’s website or at the Life Center.

In the legumes group, some examples would be tofu, soy milk, hummus, beans, and nuts, but watch the fat content she warned. “In the vegetables group, you can eat as many servings as you want. Raw is better.” Every different color of a vegetable provides a beneficial vitamin or nutrient, frozen or raw. Strive for a medley of color on your plate. Look for products in their natural state she advised.

Limit sweets to no more than one a day. How can we give up chocolate? Look for low fat such as a fruit smoothie or sauteed apples with little bit of maple syrup and cinnamon.

“The best way to get started is to think of three vegetarian meals that you already enjoy like pasta primavera or vegetable soup. Take another meal that you enjoy such as chili, and substitute the meat with another vegetable and vegan cheese. Add cooked vegetables to your marinara sauce or stir fry a variety of raw vegetables and serve over rice. Experiment with oils, herbs and flavors. Olive and canola are recommended to be the best for cooking.

Susquehanna Health will be offering a 21 day kick-start program. If anyone is interested in this unique opportunity, contact the Diabetes and Nutrition Care Center at 326-8410. All participants will receive shopping lists, recipes, and a program to follow.

Another event is scheduled for April 13 and will focus on diabetes awareness. “We will have our chef prepare some great foods and show a movie,” said Dawson.