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Take 5 for Heart Health: Know the Facts

This week on WIS-TV, we’re talking about ways you can be heart healthy with “Take 5 for Heart Health.” Dr. Cassandra Patterson of Peterson & Plante Internal Medicine Associates, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, talked with news anchor Dawndy Mercer Plank about heart disease risk factors for women, along with recognizing symptoms. Watch the interview in the video below.

The segment is part of our “Just Say Know” campaign, educating women about heart disease. Learn more and take a heart health quiz at

And, learn more about heart health at our FREE Heart Fair this Sunday, March 1, from Noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton on Bush River Road. Discover the latest heart-heatlh information on stroke, EMS and 9-1-1, advanced technologies for diagnostic, interventional and surgical procedures, and mini-lectures from physicians and clinicians. You can also participate in free activities including massage therapy, relaxation training, citizen CPR lessons, blood pressure screenings, healthy food demonstrations and a kids’ corner.

Lower Blood Pressure by Reducing Sodium Intake

by Laura Stepp RD, LD, CDE at LMC

February is heart month. As we think about the ways we are going to show our loved ones how much we care about them, one of those ways may be to pay closer attention to how much excess sodium we might be consuming.

shutterstock_43584655During the last two years, the recommendations for sodium intake have been reviewed with new guidelines and new food labels being proposed. According to an article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, reducing sodium intake by 400mg/day in those with uncontrolled hypertension (blood pressure of 140/90) could save $2.3 million in medical costs annually.

The sodium recommendations for lowering blood pressure include:
•reducing daily intake to less than 2300mg/day
•Reducing daily intake to 1500mg/day for those at high risk for heart disease or stroke (51 yrs or older, African American, already diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease) to

To put the recommendations into perspective: 2300mg/day = 1 level teaspoon and 1500mg/day = approx 2/3 teaspoon.

The final recommendations to help lower blood pressure is to adopt a plant based diet such as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), try to get to and maintain a healthy weight, and to exercise daily.

Reducing daily sodium intake may be easier than it first appears. According to research, the majority of our excess sodium intake comes from packaged foods and eating out at restaurants. Understanding how to read a food label can help everyone to choose lower sodium products. Below is an example of how food labels look now and the proposed new food labels.


First, pay attention the serving size – everything on the label pertains only to the suggested serving size. Then, look at the sodium. To be sure the food is truly a low sodium product, each serving should be 140mg or less. Unfortunately, we can’t always find a low sodium version of the food we want. If that’s the case, pair a higher sodium food with low sodium foods to keep your sodium intake under control. When working with canned goods, simply drain and rinse the canned goods with fresh water to help lower and remove some of the excess sodium.

Seeds of Change

by Jennifer Benedetto RD,LD,CNSC at LMC

Frozen fruit and protein powder aren’t the only popular ingredients in smoothies. Seeds, which have been promoted as nutritional powerhouses, are frequently added. Two of the most popular seeds, chia and flax, are now easily found on grocery store shelves. What are the benefits of these tiny seeds and is one seed more beneficial than the other?

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds

Chia is an edible seed from the desert plant Salvia hispanica. Chia seeds contain high concentrations of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Chia seeds are able to be digested as a whole seed with no pre-processing necessary. Two tablespoons of chia seeds (~ 1 ounce) contains 139 calories, 4 g protein, 9 g fat (5 grams of heart healthy omega-3’s) and 11 g of fiber. An effortless and mostly undetectable food additive, chia seeds can simply be sprinkled on yogurt, hot cereals, sauces, vegetables and rice dishes or added to smoothies or baked goods. There are a few preliminary studies suggesting possible health benefits (heart health, cancer prevention) from the consumption of chia seeds, but no benefits have been conclusively established.

Flax Seeds

Flax Seeds

Flaxseeds, unlike chia seeds, can pass through the digestive tract undigested if consumed whole. To absorb the nutrients found in flaxseeds, they should be ground prior to consumption. Pre-ground flaxseeds are available in most grocery stores as “ground flaxseed”, “milled flaxseed”, or “flaxseed meal”. Ground flaxseed is best stored in the freezer to prevent oxidation. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 4 g of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Over half of the fat is alpha-linolenic acid which the body can convert to anti-inflammatory and heart healthy mediators. Flaxseeds also contain 100 to 800 times more lignans than other seeds. Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen that have antioxidant, antitumor, and antiestrogenic properties. Despite their promising nutrient profile, experts on flaxseed point out that none of the proposed health benefits have been conclusively established.

Both chia and flaxseeds have a promising nutrient composition when it comes to promoting health. Unfortunately, conclusive studies are lacking at this time. But be on the look out for more definitive research. For the time being, choose either seed based on your taste preference. But since both contain fiber, introduce them gradually to your diet and be sure to consume adequate fluid daily.