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Healthy Eating for National Nutrition Month

March 2, 2021 | Blog, Wellness

It’s no surprise that National Nutrition Month would follow National Heart Month. We focus this month on nutrition education for overall healthy living. Nutrition deals with healthy physical activity and eating habits which benefits things like, type 2 diabetes, strong bones and teeth, managing weight and of course, heart health. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Most middle-aged and young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or being a smoker or overweight. Having multiple risk factors increases your risk for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In fact, One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease and approximately 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

Covid-19 has led people with cardiovascular disease to be more cautious of getting coronavirus by socially distancing, wearing masks, cleaning, disinfecting and other ways to prevent yourself from getting coronavirus. Some heart patients may have a higher risk of contracting the disease, and some may be more prone to complications if they get it. In addition, the virus can cause heart muscle or vessel damage, resulting in severe problems. Patients with congenital heart disease, especially in those whose congenital defects have not been surgically corrected, may be at a higher risk of complications if affected by COVID-19, as their blood circulation has already been compromised. And people with peripheral artery disease (PAD) are at increased risk of complications from COVID-19 because many of these people also have diabetes and heart disease, which are among the more critical underlying conditions that worsen COVID-19 infection outcomes.

Tips on Improving Heart Health

Some tips on how to improve heart health include, being more physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, getting a full 7-8 hours of sleep, and quit smoking. Tracking your heart health stats can also be a good practice when it comes to heart health. You track your heart health by keeping a log of your blood pressure weight, physical activity and if you have diabetes, your blood sugars, will help you stay on a heart-healthy track. Lastly, we’d recommend healthy eating. A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. Eating a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups and lowering salt intake are great places to start.

There are some minor changes to your diet that can help you maintain a healthy heart such as, eating nuts such as walnuts, peanuts, and almonds, they’re loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, and various other nutrients that can help to fight heart disease. Having a well balanced breakfast that includes whole grains such as cereal or whole grain toast can be a great benefit to heart health and starts off your day right. Eating tons of produce like fruits and vegetables every day is a great health benefit, they’re low in calories and high in fiber. Other foods that benefit heart health are leafy greens, berries, whole grains, beans, and more.

Heart Healthy Recipe

Last month was American Heart Health Month. We’d like to end the month of February with a great recipe for heart health provided by our corporate executive chief Michael Ostros. Below is the recipe for our signature Pan Roasted Chicken Breast Winter Squash Risotto.

Pan Roasted Chicken Breast Winter Squash Risotto


5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots or one sweet onion , thinly sliced.
  • 3 cups chopped peeled butternut, hubbard, red kuri or kabocha squash (1/2-inch pieces)
  • 2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme or fresh
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads, (optional)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, or dry vermouth
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


Instructions Checklist

  • Step 1

Season chicken breast with salt and pepper; in medium sauté pan heat oil to sear chicken breast till golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Set aside.

  • Step2

Place broth in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth remains steaming but is not simmering.

  • Step 3

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in squash and mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms give off their liquid (if using), about 5 minutes. Add thyme, salt, pepper and saffron (if using); cook for 30 seconds. Add rice; stir until translucent, about 1 minute. Add wine (or vermouth) and cook, stirring, until almost absorbed by the rice, about 1 minute.

  • Step 4

Stir in 1/2 cup of the hot broth; reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until all the liquid has been absorbed, until the rice is tender and creamy, 30 to 40 minutes total. (You may have some broth left.) Remove from the heat and stir in cheese (optional).

  • Step 5

Plate risotto in the middle of the bowl; slice the chicken breast and place on to of risotto and serve the dish. ENJOY .

Spring Hills Cardiac Resources

Cardiovascular health at every age is critical to living a full and happy life.  We recognize this here at Spring Hills, and we make sure that our residents and patients have every opportunity to optimize their heart health with innovative, enjoyable, accessible activities across our continuum, especially through our Cardiac Program that provides end-to-end cardiac care to ensure an individual’s seamless and safe transition from hospital to home.

Alexander Markowits, Founder and President/CEO of Spring Hills, adds, “Our priority is always the optimal health of our residents. By providing these innovative heart health programs, activities, encouraging participation, and celebrating success, we enable our residents to live to their fullest potential.”

Spring Hills promotes cardiovascular health for all of its residents through a comprehensive program of physical activity, nutrition, and mindfulness. Our programs are the result of data-driven research and thoughtful analysis applied to the compassionate care that ensures we can all Live Happy.

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