It’s Heart Month! Give your heart the attention it deserves to stay healthy all year long

January 31, 2019

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, hearts seem to be everywhere you look this time of year. That’s why it is especially fitting that February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness of heart disease and how we can help prevent it. It’s also the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves to take good care of our hearts year-round.

There are a number of things you can do to show your heart how much you care, including eating a healthy diet, taking part in regular physical activity and working to reduce the amount of stress in your daily life. One of the most important things you can do to take control of your heart health is to be aware of and know how to manage a few important numbers that are key indicators of heart health.

Blood pressure
Is your blood pressure at normal levels? One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. It’s important to know what your blood pressure is and if it falls into the normal range, which is below 120/80. If your numbers are at 120-129/less than 80, your blood pressure would be considered “elevated.” Hypertension – or high blood pressure – occurs at levels of 130-139/80-89.

Do you know your cholesterol numbers? Your medical provider measures three different facets of your cholesterol – HDL (the “good” kind), LDL (the “bad” kind) and triglycerides (fat used to store excess energy from the foods you eat). Your goal should be to have healthy cholesterol levels of:

  • Total cholesterol: Less than 200
  • HDL (good): 50 or higher for women and 40 or higher for men
  • LDL (bad): Less than 100
  • Triglycerides: Less than 150

Family heart health history
Some of the things you have in common with fellow members of your family – like genetics, environment and lifestyle factors – can play a role in your personal health. By having a working knowledge of your family’s medical history, you can help your provider identify where you may be at higher risk for certain conditions like heart disease and work to reduce your risks through lifestyle changes.

The best way to know and stay on top of your heart health numbers is by having them checked at regularly scheduled visits with your primary care provider. When you give your heart the attention and care it deserves and know your numbers, you and your provider will be in a better position to catch any issues that may arise and help keep your heart strong, healthy and ready for all that life has to offer.

Check out this Heart Healthy recipe from the New American Heart Association Cookbook!

Mediterranean toasted Quinoa and Spinach


  • 1 ½ c uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 c fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 c shred spinach, stems discarded
  • 1 oz low-fat feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ c slivered red onion


  1. In a large nonstick skillet, dry-roast the quinoa over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly toasted and any excess water has evaporated, stirring frequently ( the quinoa won’t turn golden brown)
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat.  Stir in the quinoa.  Return to a boil Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the broth is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredient except the onion.  Just before serving , spring with the onion

Tip: Dry roasting the quinoa really enhances the flavor.  Although most package quinoa has already been rinsed, it’s a good idea to rinse yourself to be sure the bitter coating is removed.  One way is to swirl it around in a bowl of water and drain it in a fine-mesh strained.  Replacing the water each times, repeat several times until the water runs clear.

Nutrition Information” 292 calories, 9 g fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 129 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate and 12 g protein

Recipe Source: The New American Heart Association Cookbook

If you would like to speak to a primary care provider about your heart health numbers, call 1-800-424-DOCS or visit the “Find a Provider” tab at


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.