February is American Heart Month and serves as a crucial reminder for individuals to prioritize cardiovascular wellness and take proactive steps toward maintaining a healthy heart. Proper nutrition can play a huge role in building a resilient heart, which is why it is important to make healthy food choices.
SBU Eats Dietitian Laura Martorano developed heart-healthy snack boxes, which are available at the Emporium Market at East Side, the Market at West Side and Jasmine Market. She created these to promote nutrition and wellness while sweetening everyone’s day. The boxes will be available starting on February 7 and include snacks such as dark chocolate Kind bars, Luna coconut dipped chocolate bars, Made Good granola bites, two flavored teas, 88-acre favorites and a fun barbell stress ball.
”I want to empower the campus community to make lasting lifestyle changes and encourage them to adopt heart-healthy habits by prioritizing their own well-being. There are some simple changes that you can make to your daily routine to reduce your risk of heart disease,” stated Martorano.
Martorano emphasizes that eating more fruits and vegetables, choosing whole grains, incorporating healthy fats into your diet, limiting saturated and trans fats such as fried foods and processed snacks, choosing lean proteins, limiting sodium and sugars, staying hydrated and eating more mindfully are all ways to support your overall heart health. “Inflammation is also a huge factor with heart disease and there should be an emphasis on antioxidants that all the infamous superfoods provide, such as flavanols from dark chocolate,” explained Martorano.
Each month Martorano hosts exciting SBU Eats “Wellness Wednesday” pop ups at East Side and West Side Dining to promote nutrition and wellness to students, faculty and staff so they have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a dietitian. This month’s pop up will include an interactive table to customize a granola mix with fruits, nuts and seeds. She also offers free nutrition counseling to all students and works with students with food allergies and dietary intolerances to provide a safe and supportive environment when dining on campus.
“By making simple and impactful changes to our diets, we can take proactive steps towards safeguarding our cardiovascular health and developing long-term habits to live healthier for many years to come,” said Martorano.
Practical Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating
- Always build your plate with the focus on getting adequate protein and vegetables while choosing a carbohydrate source that is high in fiber and/or a plant-based protein such as beans.
- Find your flavor without the use of salt. Spices that are terrific for cardiovascular health are cayenne pepper, garlic, chili powder and cinnamon.
- Hydration is key. Staying hydrated will help you moderate your sodium levels and provide your cardiovascular system with the opportunity to pump your blood and nutrients through your blood vessels and to your muscles more efficiently.