Heart health highlighted in February

By Linda Klope,


ESCANABA — February is heart month. For nutrition, my thoughts turn to healthy eating. For your healthy heart consider eating a healthy diet. That is one that consists of eating from each of the food groups, so load up on those fruits and vegetables, have some grains, preferably whole grains, protein and dairy.

The fruits and vegetables offer so many varieties it is really hard not to find something to like. Many more “exotic” fruits are coming to our local markets and at reasonable prices. We really need to consider eating seven to eight and a half cup servings every day from these two groups combined. If you are a juice drinker then a half cup counts as part of that, with whole fruits and vegetables you should be able to cup your hand and see that half cup portion size. If that piece of fruit is much bigger than that it will count as one whole cup, so often the larger bananas, apples or oranges count as a cup. Whole fruits are best as they will give you fiber as a part of the group.

For many of the grains eight to nine ounces will work for most of us. One serving is a slice of bread, half cup rice, or pasta, two taco shells, about one cup of cereal among other things will work. Generally this is a group that most of us have no trouble getting enough of. This group will provide many of the B vitamins for our bodies to work right.

Protein is easy to get in. Five ounces is a general standard for most healthy adults. That is a piece of protein about the size and thickness of a medium hand. That is the amount for the whole day, not just the evening main meal. Beef, chicken. Lamb, venison, eggs, turkey, fish and many more things will fit into the protein category so it is easy to choose. Make sure your choice has much more red than white and try to skip the skin on the fish and poultry items. The extra fat is not that great for the heart.

Dairy items are quite available these days. Fluid milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy items fit in this group. If you are purchasing some of the nut milks, make sure that the calcium is there to help keep your bones healthy.

Small amounts of fats will add flavor to your foods. Items such as salad dressings, butter, margarine, sour cream and even one slice of bacon fit into this tasty group. We really only need about five or six teaspoon servings each day of this group so it is easy to go overboard on portions here.

I have never been a fan of giving up a food group for healthy eating. You are much better off to gradually cut back on portions to lose weight and increase your movement (or exercise) a bit. Enjoy what you eat!

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After 38 years of employment at OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group, Linda Klope is officially retiring from her dietary position. Aside from her role as a registered clinical dietician and certified diabetic educator, Linda has been very involved in the community- leading many health and wellness education programs and making a positive impact in local elementary schools with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. OSF would like to thank Linda for her contributions and wish her well in her retirement.