American Heart Month: Your central organ needs some loving

Dec 20, 2019Courtney Morris
Heart health

Show your heart some love this February.

During American Heart Month, make small changes to improve your heart's health and prevent heart disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate approximately 1 in 3 U.S. adults has high blood cholesterol. This can lead to heart disease and stroke. Other risk factors include genetics, gender, age, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking.

According to San Jacinto College's Trenton Denton, the heart -- a muscular organ -- needs exercise.

"A heart-healthy lifestyle involves a healthy diet, healthy weight, and physical activity," said Denton, professor of physical education in the personal trainer program.

He encourages starting with small changes. Take the stairs rather than elevator, park farther from your destination, walk the dog, ride a bicycle, or work in the garden.

Then add on: "Try aerobic exercise five days per week for 30 minutes or more. Monitor your exercise intensity and have a trainer help you establish proper training zones for your ability level," Denton said.

If you already use a fitness center, ask the manager or director to recommend a personal trainer. Or consult online reviews for fitness centers and trainers.

A bonus of exercise is stress relief and even socialization if you invite a friend or join a fitness class.

Exercise and a healthy diet go hand in hand. Denton recommends eating a variety of foods, focusing on. . .

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein (limit red meat to two days per week)

Start today! Little changes show a lot of love for the body's central organ.

Eat Healthy

Need healthy inspiration for your plate? Our culinary arts program gets you started.

Meatless Tacos (courtesy of Chef Michael Schuster, North Campus)


  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. In a food processor, combine walnuts, cumin, onion powder, and black pepper. Pulse, chopping finely, for about one minute.
  2. Add olive oil and soy sauce. Pulse again for another minute.
  3. Use a rubber spatula to scrape into an airtight container. Reserve at room temperature while finishing the sour cream recipe. (Start soaking cashews for the sour cream the night before).

Vegan Sour Cream


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 4 ounces water (for soaking)
  • 2 ounces lime juice (for soaking)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces lime juice (for blending)
  • 4 ounces water (for blending)


  1. Soak cashews in water and lime juice overnight.
  2. The next day, drain and rinse cashews and place in a food processor. Pulse for a minute to chop fine.
  3. Add cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Puree in food processor, adding water slowly until the mixture turns into a sour cream consistency.
  4. Place your meatless filling and sour cream inside a Boston lettuce wrap. Add pico de gallo and your favorite salsa!