Spreading Love and Heart Health Awareness

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Lisa Sharp, Registered Dietitian

Each February we are reminded that heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States – despite advances in research and treatments. According to the CDC, some risk factors cannot be changed. These include a family history of early heart disease, our age and sex; over age 45 for men, over 55 for women. The older adult residents at our Fellowship Houses are all living on fixed or limited incomes. They may choose less expensive, calorie-dense foods that don’t deliver the nutrients they need. An unhealthy diet can lead to unintended weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, all modifiable risk factors for heart disease. We can do a lot to protect our heart and stay healthy. Heart-healthy living involves understanding our risk and making healthy choices.

One of our Community Partners, Lisa Sharp, is a registered dietitian with experience developing personalized eating plans for people in long term care. Lisa has been active in programs to reduce food insecurity. Last year she began volunteering with Fellowship Fresh to deliver donated groceries to our residents. She also taught three Eating Well Clinics at Hunter Woods Fellowship House. This February residents of Hunter Woods will learn 8 steps to make heart healthy food choices. You can use these steps yourself or as a guide when donating food.

• Reach for a variety of fruits – bananas, grapes, frozen berries, applesauce, canned oranges or peaches; and colorful vegetables – fresh or frozen leafy greens and broccoli, canned carrots, red bell peppers, beets.

• Choose whole grains – bran, oatmeal, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and noodles.

• Include healthy protein, mostly plants – tofu, beans, peas, lentils, nut butters; and seafood – salmon, light tuna, trout, sardines.

• Use liquid non-tropical vegetable oils – canola, corn, olive, safflower oil.

• Cut down on salt – “reduced-sodium” or “no-salt-added” broth, soups, soy sauce, ketchup, tomato products.

• Subtract added sugars – green tea and drinks without added sugar, unsweetened snacks.

• Choose minimally processed foods – not premade mixes for soup, rice, and pasta, nor instant products like mashed potatoes.

• Balance calories with physical activity – use recommended serving sizes and do aerobic exercises you enjoy.

After recent renovations, we now have increased our capacity to store fresh and frozen food donations! Upgrades to our commercial kitchens included walk-in refrigerators and freezers and pantry space. We always welcome donations of grocery store gift cards to support our residents’ healthy food choice.

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