The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Baylor nurse delivers heart-healthy seminar on NE

By Stevi Smith/reporter

About 100 people gathered Feb. 8 on NE Campus for a heart-healthy lunch and to learn the importance of knowing how to prevent heart disease.

a Sherree Bennett, registered nurse at Baylor All-Saints Hospital and an educator for the American Heart Association, presented Living with a Healthy Heart, sponsored by NE health services.

“Coronary heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans today,” she said. “Many of my patients come in and say that they have taken fatty foods like fried chicken out of their diet, but their cholesterol and LDL levels haven’t changed.”

Omitting fried foods is not enough, Bennett said. The western diet of processed foods combined with lack of exercise damage heart health and contribute to obesity, diabetes and higher cancer rates.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a central component to heart disease, Bennett said.

“Your heart pumps up to 80 beats per minute,” she said. “When a person has atherosclerosis, it is as if their heart’s valve has decreased from the size of a drinking straw to that of a coffee straw, and your heart has to work much harder to pump.”

Bennett listed five things every person should know in relation to heart health: height and weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, fasting blood sugar levels and family history.

Bennett, who has lost 100 pounds to date, said she knows how difficult it is to make lifestyle changes but making small adjustments add up. For instance, she said, omega-3’s, found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements, have been shown to lower cholesterol.

“I have had patients come in who have made no changes besides popping a fish oil supplement, and they have lowered their cholesterol up to 13 points,” she said.

Reading food labels and avoiding three commonly added ingredients in processed foods — palm kern oil, high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil — are keys to healthier eating, Bennett said.

“Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where all of your fresh fruits, vegetables and organic meats are located,” she said. “The middle areas contain the most processed foods.”

She closed by giving tips on maintaining a healthy heart, such as staying hydrated, decreasing caffeine intake, being more active and baking, broiling or grilling foods instead of frying.

Bennett warned against cooking on a charcoal grill because it could be carcinogenic.

Bennett said liquid intake and exercise are other keys to heart health.

“You should be drinking enough so that your urine is the color of lemonade, not iced tea,” she said, laughing. “Just getting up and moving for 15 minutes can make a difference. Just get up and move. Every little bit helps.”

Many of the students who attended the speech were in the physical therapist assistant program, including Rachel Bellotte, who said she knew a lot about heart health before the presentation.

“I didn’t know what to look for on food labels,” Bellotte said. “But after this speech, I know what to avoid.”

She found the discussion interesting and said the speaker “really drew you in.”

Another student Kristen Stonecipher appreciated the lunch and the cooking advice.

“I loved the healthy food that was prepared,” she said. “And I wasn’t aware that cooking foods on a charcoal grill was cancer-causing.”

Everyone received healthy recipes and information on heart health, plus a few dark chocolates and a bag of heart cookies.

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