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We Want to Hear from You, Tennessee!

The American Heart Association is a volunteer driven organization and would not be able to accomplish its goals, fulfill its mission and make a difference in the health of our community without people like you. Here in Tennessee, we're already planning for the 2015 state legislative session and we can tell, there is a lot of work to do. We definitely will need your help and would like to know how you want to be engaged and the best way for us to communicate with you about our efforts.

Click here to take our very brief survey!

With your feedback, we can keep you updated on our advocacy efforts and provide you with ways to be involved. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Teaching Gardens = Learning Laboratories for Kids

Studies show that when kids grow their own fruits and vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them. That’s the idea behind the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens.  While 1/3 of American children are classified as overweight or obese, AHA Teaching Gardens is fighting this unhealthy trend by giving children access to healthy fruits and vegetables and instilling a life time appreciation for healthy foods.

Aimed at first through fifth graders, we teach children how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits. Garden-themed lessons teach nutrition, math, science and other subjects all while having fun in the fresh air and working with your hands.

Over 270 gardens are currently in use nationwide reaching and teaching thousands of students, with more gardens being added every day.  You can find an American Heart Association Teaching Garden in your area here or email teachinggardens@heart.org to find how you can get involved.

               

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Governor Haslam Supports Physical Activity in Schools

On June 3, 2014 Governor Bill Haslam signed into law SB 1760 (Ketron)/HB 1658 (K. Brooks). These bills help ensure Tennessee students get the 90 minutes per week of required physical activity for public school students, by prohibiting counting walking to and from class towards the minimum. It also clarifies that walking to and from class cannot be counted in the statutorily required minimum of 90 minutes per week of physical activity for Tennessee elementary and secondary students.

This legislation ensures true opportunities for physical activity (walking, jumping rope, playing volleyball or other forms of physical activity that promote fitness and well-being) are provided above and beyond change of class time.

Increased physical activity helps the American Heart Association in achieving its 2020 goal, which is to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent, while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

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Summertime Means Healthy Time!

Tired of cooking the same thing over and over, week after week?  Late Spring and early Summer are some of the best times of the year for healthy cooking with the plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables that are popping up at the local farmers’ markets,  grocery stores, and even in our own back yards!  Here is a great heart healthy recipe where you can put those fresh veggies to good use.

Eating heart healthy can be equally as delicious as it is good for your body.  And if you could save your heart by improving your diet, wouldn’t you at least want to give it a try?

HERBED VEGGIE SKILLET

2 teaspoons canola or corn oil
8 ounces zucchini, sliced
1/4 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
3/4 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1/3 cup diced tomato
2 tablespoons water (plus more if needed)
1/8 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon (scant) dried oregano, crumbled
Pepper to taste

Preparation
1.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the zucchini, onion, and bell pepper for 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft, stirring frequently.
2.  Stir in the remaining ingredients except the pepper. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender, adding more water if necessary. Sprinkle with the pepper.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 69
 Total Fat 2.5 g
 Saturated Fat 0.0 g
 Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
 Monounsaturated Fat 1.5 g
 Cholesterol 0 mg
 Sodium 9 mg
 Carbohydrates 11 g
 Fiber 2 g
 Sugars 3 g
 Protein 2 g

Dietary Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat

© American Heart Association

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Take Control of Your Health

Did you know high blood pressure has also been called the “silent killer”? That’s because its symptoms are not always obvious, making the need for regular check-ups important.  As we recognize High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, here are the facts:

• High blood pressure (aka: hypertension) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

• It’s the leading risk factor of women’s deaths in the U.S., and the second leading risk factor for death for men.

• One-third of American adults have high blood pressure. And 90 percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure over their lifetimes.

• More than 40 percent of non-Hispanic black adults have high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure more prevalent in blacks than whites, but it also develops earlier in life.
 
• Despite popular belief, teens, children and even babies can have high blood pressure. As with adults, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or prevent the harmful consequences of this disease.

Now that you know the facts, what can you do to take control? The answer is a “lifestyle prescription” that can prevent and manage high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, stress management, and eating a healthy diet, especially by reducing the sodium you eat. To learn more about taking control of you blood pressure, be sure to visit our online toolkit!

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2014 Tennessee Legislative Wrap Up

The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned its 2014 session on Thursday, April 17, 2014. The highlights of the session for the American Heart Association include:

  • Healthy Food Financing (HHF) legislation
  • Electronic Cigarette (e-cig) legislation
  • Formation of a Nutrition caucus.

The HFF legislation had two very strong sponsors and made its way through both the house and senate committees, but stalled due to no agency stepping up to house it. The Electronic Cigarette bill would have erased a lot of the progress we have made in this state to fight against tobacco. We managed to stop the e-cig bill without it even making it to a hearing by working closely with the Health Department. Senator Mark Norris announced to formation of a Nutrition Caucus in which both the House and Senate will be part of. The American Heart Association is a partner in this and involved with its kick off.

A lot of progress has been made on our policy agenda, but we have just started. Healthy Food Financing will be on our policy agenda again for 2015 and we ask you to be a vocal supporter of it. Other polices are in the works to improve the health of our state and we can only accomplish them with your help.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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Tennessee Leaders Celebrate National Walking Day with a Challenge

National Walking Day received great attention on Wednesday, April 2.  That day, Governor Bill Haslam and several legislative leaders held a press conference at the State Capitol to issue a challenge not only to the Legislature, but to all Tennesseans, to walk for 30-minutes.  These legislative leaders included Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron and Assistant Republican Leader Kevin Brooks.  Over 50 people attended the event.  After the press conference, legislators participated in a group walk from the State Capitol to the Plaza using pedometers donated by the American Heart Association.

Click here to view photos from the event!

National Walking Day is the American Heart Association's annual icon day encouraging Americans to become more physically active by walking to improve health.

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Tennessee Legislature Addresses Access to Healthy Foods

The Tennessee General Assembly is addressing the issue of food deserts and healthy food financing this session.

Food deserts occur in mainly underserved urban and rural settings where access to healthy food is not available due to lack of a super market or means to transportation.  This lack of access reduces the likelihood of these citizens eating a healthy diet and perpetuates the health disparities and diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Key concepts to healthy food financing include:

  • Public private partnership
  • Grants and loans
  • Flexible, customized financing designed to meet the credit needs of grocers
  • Proven model to address the need for better healthy food access in underserved communities

The House bill - HB 2182 - will be heard in the House Health sub-committee on Tuesday, March 18 and the Senate companion bill - SB 2278 - in the Senate Health committee on Wednesday, March 19.

The American Heart Association has also partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create Voices for Healthy Kids®, a joint initiative working to help young people eat healthier food and be more active. Learn more at VoicesforHealthyKids.org

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Big Changes in Store for Food Labels

After more than two decades, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing sweeping changes to the nutrition labels on packaged foods.

The proposals would require food manufacturers to list added sugars, nutrition counts for more-realistic portion sizes and total nutrition information for multiple servings of food within a single package.  The government also wants to require potassium and vitamin D to be listed.

The changes are being released on Thursday during a critical time in the U.S. A third of all adults in the nation are obese, increasing the risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Another third of Americans are overweight.

“Eating healthy is a habit all Americans need to have and the FDA’s new nutrition labels will help put that goal within reach,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said. “By arming consumers with more knowledge about nutritional content, calories and serving sizes, the new labeling information proposed by the FDA takes an important step toward improving the health of all Americans.”

Despite the recent news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that obesity has declined by 43 percent for children ages 2 to 5, it has not changed significantly for adults or the larger pool of kids ages 2 to 19.

Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. And obesity in children is causing a health problems that used to be seen only in adults, like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Changes to nutrition labels will take time. The FDA will collect comments for 90 days on its proposed new rules from food manufacturers, the general public and nutrition and health advocates. It will consider clarifications or changes based on the comments, then give food manufacturers time to reprint their labels and replace existing inventory.

“These new labels will empower consumers with a valuable source of nutrition information, and the American Heart Association commends the FDA for proposing these changes,” Brown said.

Proposed changes include:

Added sugars: for the first time, added sugars will be on the nutrition facts panel. Previously, naturally-occurring and added sugars were combined into a single listing of “total sugars.” This will allow consumers to know how much sugar has been added by the manufacturer. The AHA recommends that women consume a maximum of 100 calories a day from added sugars, or 25 grams, and men consume 150 calories a day, or 37.5 grams.

“The addition of added sugars to the Nutrition Facts Panel is a giant step forward,” said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the AHA’s nutrition committee and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “High intakes of added sugars are associated with many risk factors for heart disease including obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation and elevated triglyceride levels. A recent study demonstrated an association between high intakes of added sugars and death from cardiovascular disease. Consumers want to know how much sugar has been added during the processing or preparation of foods so they can make wise decisions about the foods they eat.”

Serving sizes: Adjusted for 17 categories of foods to better reflect what people are actually consuming. For example, ice cream will go from ½ cup to 1 cup; muffins and bagels will go from ½ to 1; and beverages will go from 8 ounces to 12 oz. This gives people a more realistic idea of what they’re actually consuming in a single sitting, so they can better monitor what they’re eating and make healthier choices.

Sodium: This will be adjusted slightly to reflect a 2,300 milligram daily value, which is the maximum amount per day recommended in the dietary guidelines for someone consuming a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. The American Heart Association recommends that the ideal sodium consumption, especially for people trying to lower their blood pressure, is 1,500 mg. per day.  “There is strong scientific evidence that indicates lowering sodium reduction can result in significant reductions in blood pressure,” Brown said. ”Therefore, the association will continue to recommend sodium intake to be limited to 1,500 milligrams a day. We intend to work with the FDA, during this 90-day comment period and beyond if need be, to highlight the increased benefits from further sodium reductions and to advocate for stronger action.”

Package size: Like serving sizes, package sizes will be labeled more accurately. So a large muffin or bottle of soda will have nutrition information for the entire package.

Per serving and per package: If a package has 2-4 servings in it, the label will be required to show nutrition information per serving and per package. This helps make it clear when the package has multiple servings inside.

Calories bigger and bolder: Although the format of the label won’t change dramatically, calories and serving sizes will be emphasized with a bigger and bolder font. This may help people make healthier choices by knowing what they’re consuming.

Nutrient listings: The amount of potassium and vitamin D will now be required, calcium and iron will remain and vitamins A and C will be optional. When the nutrition label was last updated 20 years ago, health officials were more concerned about people getting enough of vitamins A and C, but attention now is on potassium and D.

Want to help inform friends & family about these changes?  Share this graphic on Facebook.





















For more information:

FDA announcement

AHA CEO Nancy Brown's Statement

Understanding food nutrition labels

American Heart Association Nutrition Center 

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