wellness online header
  February is National Heart Month
  • Heart Healthy Lifestyle
  • You Don't Have to Be Greek to Enjoy the Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet
  • In Search of a Positive Body Image
  • Dr. Oz Video: Cardiovascular Workouts
  • Source4Women: Heart Smart Diet Secrets
  • Monthly Health Tip: Include the right fats in your diet
  • Monthly Recipe
wellness online header
safe toys

Heart Healthy Lifestyle

You can't change some things that put your heart at risk, such as getting older and having a family history of heart disease. But, there are plenty of other things you can do to keep your heart strong and healthy.


Current guidelines recommend that people should:

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
  • Maintain normal weight
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Increase potassium intake
  • Limit alcohol consumption; however, moderate alcohol consumption (1 - 2 glasses a day) may actually lower the risk for heart attack among men with high blood pressure
  • Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products while reducing total and saturated fat intake. The DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet are two ways of achieving such a dietary plan.


Additionally, you should consider the following heart healthy changes:

  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking has been closely linked to heart disease as well as a host of other diseases. Quitting is the single best thing you can do for your health. But quitting is hard. Talk to your doctor about products and support that can help you succeed.
  • Know your numbers. Your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index numbers are key indicators to help you improve your health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses. See more information on Know Your Numbers.
  • Get your blood pressure checked. High blood pressure (hypertension) makes the heart work harder than normal. It can also damage your blood vessels. But you may have high blood pressure and not know it because it has no symptoms. Have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis, and if it is high, take steps to lower it.
  • Control your cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can clog your arteries and raise your risk of a heart attack. Saturated fat raises your cholesterol level more than anything else, so limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. Instead, choose healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and some fish.
  • Watch your weight. In most people, extra pounds lead to higher cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Keep your weight in check by combining a healthy, high-fiber diet with increased physical activity.
  • Get physical. Regular physical activity can cut your risk for many of the main causes of illness and death, including heart disease and stroke. It can also help you lower high blood pressure and cholesterol and control your weight. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. Be sure to check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.
  • Keep an eye on sleep habits. Certain sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea, are associated with hypertension. Even chronic, insufficient sleep may raise blood pressure in patients with hypertension, placing them at increased risk of heart disease and death. Patients with hypertension who are habitually poor sleepers should consider long-acting blood pressure medications to help counteract the increase in blood pressure that occurs in the early morning hours. Be sure to discuss with your doctor.
  • Reduce Stress. Improving mood or relieving stress may be helpful. Treating stress cannot cure medical problems, but it may be an important part of an overall lifestyle plan. Stress management programs are not a substitute for standard medical treatments.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Choose lean meats, cut back on sugar and watch your portion sizes.
wellness online header

mediterranean diet

white spacer

You Don't Have to Be Greek to Enjoy the Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet


Far from exotic, eating "Mediterranean" is less of a diet and more about a healthy approach to eating.


By Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD


A salad drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice, fat-free yogurt laced with walnuts and fresh fruit, whole-grain toast topped with avocado and sliced tomato. Sound delicious? These are all foods you would find in the Mediterranean diet.

Far from exotic, eating the "Mediterranean way" is less of a diet and more about a healthy approach to eating. It is based on foods that are traditionally found in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and olive oil are abundant. Meat, saturated fats and high-fat dairy are consumed in much smaller amounts.


Health Benefits
Multiple studies suggest that eating a Mediterranean-style diet may help contribute to a longer life, aid in weight control and cut the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers credit any health benefits to plenty of plant based foods, fish and healthy fats, combined with the low amount of high-fat animal foods. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that individuals at high risk for major cardiovascular events reduced their risk by eating a Mediterranean diet and supplementing with extra-virgin olive oil and nuts.


Mediterranean Diet 101
You don't have to live on a Greek island to appreciate this wholesome meal plan. Here are the basics:


  • Base your diet around plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. These provide hearty doses of antioxidants, loads of fiber and other vitamins and minerals that can help ward off disease.
  • Increase healthy fats, especially olive or canola oil, nuts, avocados and fatty fish (such as salmon and sardines). These are all high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Use these to replace saturated and trans fats found in fatty meats, cheese and processed foods.
  • Decrease saturated fats and trans fats, which are often present in red meat and processed foods.
  • Eat moderate amounts of fish and poultry, and less red meat. And consume moderate amounts of dairy products.
  • Use spices and herbs to flavor foods rather than salt.
  • Drink low or moderate amounts of red wine with meals – no more than two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women. But if you don't drink, don't start.
  • Try to make sweets or desserts in the form of fresh fruit.


And remember that just because fats like olive oil and nuts are healthy, it does not give you license to eat them with abandon. These foods are still high in total calories. For adults, keep total fat intake to about 30 percent of total calories, which comes to about 65 grams on a 2,000-calorie meal plan.


In the Kitchen

Switching to a Mediterranean way of eating is not only delicious, it's easy, too. Here are some suggestions for how to make the switch:


If you now eat Try this instead
White toast with butter and jam Oatmeal with walnuts and fruit
Turkey on roll with mayo Turkey and hummus on whole-wheat pita
Large bowl of pasta with meat Small amount of pasta and meat mixed with lots of vegetables
Salad with ranch dressing Salad with olive oil and lemon juice
Pretzels or chips Nuts and/or fruit
Burger and fries Salmon and brown rice pilaf


Finally, don't forget the importance of daily physical activity. Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Check with your doctor before you increase your activity. Traditionally, exercise was a large part of these cultures' daily routine and can't be discounted as a player in disease prevention.



wellness online header
safe toys

Your Weight: Success for Life

In search of a positive body image


By Arleen Fitzgerald, L.I.C.S.W.


Mirror, mirror on the wall: Accept your body once and for all

A funny thing happens when some of us look in the mirror. Rather than seeing what's right — and even wonderful — about ourselves, we zero in on what we think is wrong.


Sound familiar? If so, it's something you can change — so you can feel more comfortable and confident. And, there can be a benefit beyond your emotional well-being. Learning to have a more positive body image may actually help you succeed at weight control.


But, to make it work, take your eyes off your reflection. And, instead, put your focus on your thoughts and actions.

Change your mind

So, how do you get into the I-like-myself mindset? Here are some strategies to try:


  • Avoid all-or-nothing thinking. Recognize that healthy bodies come in many shapes and sizes. You don't need washboard abs or skinny thighs to be fit and beautiful. Accept and appreciate what makes you unique.
  • Give your body credit. Your arms hold people you love. Your hands get work done. Your laugh lines show you enjoy life. Your legs carry you through the day.
  • Challenge your inner critic. Do you find yourself thinking, I'm too short? Too chubby? Too whatever? Say this instead: "I'm pretty great." And, concentrate on qualities that aren't related to your appearance, too. Maybe that's your creativity, kindness or sense of humor.


Take action

Smart steps like these can also help you learn to smile back at your reflection:


  • Make good health — and good times — your priority. Pursuing a healthy, happy lifestyle is one of the best ways to feel positive about your body — and yourself. Find fitness activities you enjoy.* Being active can boost your self-esteem and energy levels — and help you manage stress. Fuel up with nutritious and delicious foods. And, get the rest you need.
  • Keep a love-it list. What do you like about your body? Your strong shoulders? Warm brown eyes? Confident stride? Make a list. Keep it with you — and add to it over time.
  • Hang out with the right crowd. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who aren't focused on appearance. Seek out people who care about who you are, not how you look.


*For safety's sake, talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.


wellness online header

Better Health with Dr. Oz: Cardiovascular Workouts

The best way to improve heart function is to sweat. That means get your cardio – any exercise that raises your metabolic heart rate. View this video for more information!

wellness online header

Source4Women Online Seminar
Heart Smart Diet Secrets

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD

February 11, 2014,12:30 p.m. ET, 11:30 a.m. CT


About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women – and for most, it may be preventable! A healthy diet and lifestyle are among the best weapons in the fight against heart disease. Discover how the healthiest diets on the planet may help improve your heart health and longevity. Learn how easy and delicious it is to eat for a healthy heart. Simple heart smart strategies and smart choices may help to benefit your heart, lower your risk for heart disease and improve your overall health.

To register for an upcoming Source4Women seminar, visit www.source4women.com and click on "Online Seminars & Events." All seminars are recorded and archived for viewing after the live seminar date.

wellness online header
safe toys

Check out UHC.TV℠ for Health and Happiness


UHC.TV is serving up healthy portions of new programming. The online network provides a cooking series: The Better Cook, featuring celebrity chef Daniel Green – a kitchen pro who specializes in healthy cooking. Chef Green is a regular on ShopNBC.® He also hosts Kitchen Takeover on Twin Cities Live. The show is filmed in the General Mills test kitchens and features healthy recipes from the LiveBetterAmerica.com collection. Subscribe to UHC.TV today for your good health.

wellness online header
safe toys

Health Tip: Include the right fats in your diet.


Eat healthy fats from nuts and seeds, avocados, fatty fish (salmon, sardines), and olive and canola oils. These are good sources of vitamin E, heart-healthy omega-3, and monounsaturated fat.

wellness online header

February Healthy Recipe: Chickpea Feta Salad


Feta cheese and chickpeas lend a Mediterranean flair to this satisfying side salad. Eat a double portion for a vegetarian lunch, using the chickpeas as your main source of protein.

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed
3 cups peeled, seeded diced cucumber
2 cups halved grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper to taste             


Place chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, onion, olive oil, vinegar and pepper in a medium bowl.
Mix until coated.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 150
Fat: 6g
Cholesterol: 4.5mg
Carbohydrate: 20g
Dietary Fiber: 4g

© 2014, UnitedHealthcare. Please contact your employer if you do not wish to receive these e-mail notifications.