February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month

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by Jennifer Bain, MEd, RDN, LDN

February is known for many celebratory holidays like Groundhog’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Plus, national holidays like President’s Day and Black History Month. February is also nationally recognized as American Heart Month.

Heart disease is considered the leading cause of death in the United States, with many cases preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes. The American College of Cardiology sites smoking, obesity, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and inadequate physical activity as the top 5 risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (1). 

There are very simple dietary changes you can make, even during the month of February, to help improve your cardiovascular health, regulate blood sugars, and help reduce high cholesterol.

  1. Increase fiber intake! Fiber not only slows down the release of sugar into our blood, but it is the only way for the body to remove extra cholesterol.
  • A simple trick to increasing natural dietary fiber is to be sure and include a fruit or vegetable with everything you eat.
  1. Reduce dietary animal fats. Cholesterol is only found in animal products, not in plants.
  • Try to replace dietary animal fats with plant based fats, like raw nuts, seeds, or olive oil.
  1. Replace sodium with herbs and spices. This may take time for your taste buds to adjust, but they will! Remember, the less sodium, you add the better. Whole foods already have exactly the amount of sodium humans need. A low sodium diet is considered <2,000mg/day but research studies have suggested <1500mg/day for patients with cardiovascular disease (2).
  1. Long term regulation of blood sugars (measured by A1c levels) is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular incidents in both type 1 and type 2 diabetics (3). Limit processed foods as these not only have a lot of sodium, but are mostly sugar and not heart healthy.
  2. Also, limit sugar use at home. For instance, the amount of sugar added while baking can usually be reduced by ⅓ to ½ the amount listed without any effects on the taste.
  3. Sweeten foods by adding bananas, berries, or even sweet potatoes if needed.
  1. Keep moving…. It may be February, cold and dark, but try to remain as physically active as possible. Try a new gym, fitness class, a daily walk, or even take the stairs. The more you move the healthier your heart will be!

To learn more about dietary and lifestyle management of your heart health call the office and schedule an appointment with our dietitian Jennifer today. (513) 760-5511

Note: Referrals welcome! Nutrition patients do not need to be a patient of Lisa Larkin, MD, and Associates or Ms.Medicine.

We are having great success with our Medical Weight Loss Program patients! This program is a whole foods based diet with up to 10% weight loss in 3 months! For those looking to jumpstart their weight loss journal before bathing suit season hits, call the office and mention code: SUMMER for 20%. Offer valid through 4/30/20.

Heart Healthy Recipe to keep warm in February:

Upside Down Yogurt Parfait

1 Sweet potato – Steamed with skin

1 cup raw spinach – chopped

1 cup berries of choice

⅓ cup low fat plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp ground flax seed

This recipe provides a ton of fiber, calcium, plant based protein, and variety of colors (antioxidants) supportive in cardiovascular health.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 371

Carbohydrates: 68gm

Fiber: 15gm

Protein: 14gm

Fat: 8gm

Sodium: 226mg

Calcium: 200mg

Cook sweet potato (pierce skin with fork, cook 8-12min in microwave on high, or 45-55 minutes in oven at 425degrees)

Cut open sweet potato and top with spinach, berries, yogurt, sprinkle with ground flax



1. https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/ten-points-to-remember/2019/02/15/14/39/aha-2019-heart-disease-and-stroke-statistics

2. https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/cardiometabolic-disorders/news/online/%7B443bbef1-0b46-4400-9aff-2130901105bd%7D/reducing-hba1c-best-strategy-to-avoid-initial-subsequent-cvd-events-in-type-1-diabetes

3. https://www.healio.com/cardiology/hf-transplantation/news/online/%7Baa81613e-d8e0-4b89-a760-9d8b2dd1d133%7D/low-sodium-diet-may-benefit-after-hf-hospitalization