February Is Heart Month

— Written By and last updated by

fruits in a heart shapeWe are officially over halfway through American Heart Month. Have you done anything to help take care of your heart this month? It is up to US to take control of the things that we can in our lifestyle to keep our ticker as healthy and strong as it can be! Some highlighted points from the Center for Disease Control reiterates the burden that is heart disease in America.

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 190,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
  • High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key heart disease risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors.

Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

As I mentioned above, of these are things we CAN control, so do what you can to take those matters into your own hands! Diet is a major contributing factor in heart disease prevention. A heart-healthy diet is one that limits unhealthy fat, cholesterol, and sodium and encourages high fiber and heart-healthy fats.

“What are the differences in types of fats?”…This is a question I receive a lot, and can be a very confusing one at that.

There are three main types of fat found in foods:

  • Saturated fat (unhealthy)
  • Unsaturated fat (healthy)
  • Trans fat (unhealthy)

How can we limit the “bad” and increase the “good” in our diet?

  • Choose lean meats and leaner cuts of meat.
  • Use 1/2 less fat in every recipe without changing flavor or texture.
  • Limit the sauces, dressings, and gravies on foods.
  • Make substitutions in recipes.
  • Reduce high-fat dairy products.
  • Use herbs and spices to enhance flavor, rather than added fat or salt.

Below is a fabulous desert recipe that is very low in fat, high in fiber, and uses sugar substitute in place of sugar. A great choice for someone watching out for their heart, or their overall health and well-being!

Apple-Berry Crisp

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 8-oz. apple
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 packets aspartame sweetener
  • 1 packet saccharin sweetener
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup uncooked rolled oats
  • ¼ cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped pecans
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1½ Tablespoons low-fat (not fat-free) margarine
  • Nonstick cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F?
  2. Coat inside of 1-quart heat-proof baking dish with nonstick spray.
  3. Peel and slice apple into dish. Add fresh or frozen blueberries and toss lightly.
  4. Combine cinnamon and sweeteners in mixing bowl. Sprinkle over fruit.
  5. In same mixing bowl combine oats, flour, brown sugar, pecans, and remaining one packet of sweetener. Add margarine and water one tablespoon at a time to form crumbs, mix with fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit in baking dish.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or just until fruit juices bubble up on sides and in the middle of the dish.
  7. Serve warm with non-fat whipped topping or skim milk or vanilla frozen dessert. Remember that milk or frozen dessert topping will add more calories and carbohydrate, while 2 Tablespoons of frozen non-fat whipped topping is a free food.