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The Alaska Club

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Loving Your Heart in 2024

Posted by Elize Rumsley – RD, LD, CDE, MS, PhD. | Feb 21, 2024 2:13:24 PM

February is the month to raise awareness of heart health. Did you know that every 38 seconds someone dies from cardiovascular disease in this country? Although you can’t control your age, gender, or genetics, you can decrease your risk by changing your lifestyle habits. Here are some tips to improve your heart health.

  • Be physically active: Try to find an activity that you enjoy and organize a group exercise session. It could be a walking group, dance, skating, skiing, biking, gym class or even a team sport activity. Any movement is better than nothing.
  • Plan a balanced meal that consists of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein. Aim for high fiber foods and limit the amount of saturated fats from animals, coconut, or palm oils. Choose healthier fats coming from other plants such as avocado, olives or nuts. In general, the less processed the food, the better. Reduce your salt, sugar, and fat consumption by decreasing the frequency of eating out or buying convenience foods.
  • Rethink your drink. Limit your alcohol consumption as it can increase your triglycerides (type of fat in the blood) and blood pressure. Too much caffeine can also affect high blood pressure which affects the heart health. Try to be hydrated by drinking more water or herbal teas.
  • Manage stress and sleep better. Practice stress-relief techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Turn off the computer screen, TV, or smart phones at least 2 hours before going to bed. Set a bedtime routine and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you have been told that you snore loudly or gasp for air during sleep, talk with your doctor.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, sign up for the smoking cessation classes and try to kick this habit today.

You may not be able to change all the habits at once. The key is to make small and consistent changes that can be sustainable. Every little change can make a difference and make a positive impact on your heart health!


Here is a simple barley salad that is rich in fiber, nutrients, and it is heart healthy! Mix the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Then add the rest of the ingredients and toss them well. Adjust the taste to your desire. Enjoy!


bowl of food


  • 1 lb. pearled barley, cooked
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • ½ cucumber, diced
  • 1 colored bell pepper, diced in small pieces
  • ¼ cup of chopped mint, cilantro or parsley
  • ½ cup of black olives, cut in half
  • ½ cup of feta cheese, crumbled or ½ lb of shrimp, cooked (optional)
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Topics: Clean eating, Getting Fit, Heart health awareness

Written by Elize Rumsley – RD, LD, CDE, MS, PhD.

Elize is registered and state licensed, has a BS in Human Nutrition and a MA and PhD in Nutrition Science.

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