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Gail Harris-Berry

No one in Prince George’s County is more passionate about heart health than Gail Harris-Berry. Since becoming a You’re the Cure advocate in 2012, Gail has worked hard to keep her friends, family, and community informed on how to live a heart healthy life.

Gail has been an active Prince George’s County resident since 1969. She spends her time assisting senior citizens, as well as serving as an ordained minister. Her role as a minister gives her the opportunity to speak with community members and share her amazing story, which you can learn about HERE. As an American Heart Association ambassador, she frequently speaks to local government leaders, and advocates for CPR in Schools and the need for more comprehensive studies of heart disease among women.

Gail believes in being proactive about her heart health. To her, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

“Because we live so long, it is important to be as healthy as possible, to truly enjoy that time and enjoy the highest quality of life possible. Be proactive in preventing disease; not reactive. The benefits will come.” 

As someone who has experienced heart episodes in the past, she understands better than most how much prevention, such as improved nutrition, can make a difference in improving quality of life and reducing the risk of heart disease. Improving nutrition in Prince George’s County Maryland is particularly important to her because she has so many friends and family, including grandchildren, who live there. As a You’re the Cure advocate, Gail educates her community that better nutrition can reduce obesity, diabetes, and improve heart health.

Gail believes that healthy food options should be available for everyone, including in vending machines.

“Adding nutritious foods to vending machines would give everyone the chance to eat a little better. So many people live with heart disease and obesity, especially in Prince George’s County.  Having better food options would help to prevent diseases down the road and save people from expensive medical bills.”

Gail is an active You’re the Cure advocate in Prince George’s County and the Greater Washington Region and invites anyone who wants to make a difference in reducing heart disease and stroke to join the network at www.yourethecure.org.

 

 

 

<Special thanks to You’re the Cure intern Spencer Davis for development of this blog post>

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Heading to a Ballot Box Near You

Our movement to combat childhood obesity in Boulder is now officially underway. Over 9,000 Boulder residents demonstrated their support for healthy Boulder kids by signing a petition to get our public health initiative on the ballot!

Earlier this month, a coalition led effort, along with You're the Cure advocates, gathered signatures in support of a ballot measure that would ensure that all Boulder families have increased access to healthy foods, nutrition education, and opportunities for fitness and exercise, through revenue from a tax on sugary drinks. Through a collective effort we are thrilled to announce that this important measure will be heading to a ballot box near you come this November!

It’s going to take all of us, working together, to ensure a victory at the ballot box this November. AHA is committed to this work, but we need support from people like you to vote in favor of this critical public health measure. Join our campaign to combat childhood obesity and support healthy Boulder families!

Please email Vanessa.Fuentes@heart.org to learn how to get involved!

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What are you actually drinking?

We all know that certain drinks have added sugar in them but how easy is it to really know just how much?  Sometimes even when reading the nutrition label, understanding grams of sugar just doesn’t really make sense in practical terms. This graphic from the Center for Science in the Public Interest does a great job demystifying just how much sugar is in some of the most commonly consumed beverages.  For your heart health, make sure you know what you are drinking during these hot summer months. And remember, a glass of cold water is not only refreshing but it is sugar free!

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Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are in town this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

 This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Jess Nolan (jess.nolan@heart.org or 952-278-7928) as soon as possible.

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Shrimp Tacos - Delicious Decisions

Cooking at home more often is a great way to start changing your relationship with salt. Meals on the go can be hard on your heart, because many prepared foods and restaurant foods are loaded with sodium. And did you know that meals away from home account for nearly half the money Americans spend on food?

Eating healthier (and saving money as an added bonus) isn’t as hard as you might think. This summer, try our recipe for Heart Healthy Shrimp Tacos below. 

Serves 4, has roughly 206 calories and 308 mg of sodium per serving.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. snipped, fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. canola or corn oil
  • 13-14 oz. peeled, raw shrimp, rinsed, patted dry
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp. sliced black olives

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the shrimp to the pan.
  3. Sprinkle the chili powder and cumin on the shrimp. Sprinkle with the garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes if using large shrimp, or 2 to 3 minutes if using small, or until the shrimp are pink on the outside, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  4. Using the package directions, warm the tortillas.
  5. Put the tortillas on a flat surface. Sprinkle with the lettuce, tomato, and olives. Spoon the sour cream mixture on each. Top with the shrimp. Fold 2 opposite sides of the tortilla toward the center. If you prefer a dramatic presentation instead, place 2 unfolded tacos side by side on a dinner plate. Fold each in half. Push a 6-inch wooden skewer through both tacos near the tops to hold them together. Repeat with the remaining tacos. Your family will be able to remove the skewers easily before eating the tacos.

Nutrition Tip: Shrimp are relatively high in cholesterol, but they are also very low in harmful saturated fat. Even if you're watching your cholesterol, you can still occasionally enjoy shellfish, including shrimp, as part of a balanced diet.

Click here for more low-sodium recipes.

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Get Active on Social Media: #SuperParkSelfie Photo Contest

Getting as little as 30 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This summer, why not increase your physical activity by taking part in National Park and Recreation Month?

Here’s the latest from the National Recreation and Park Association:

This July, we want you to discover your super powers at your local parks and rec! To see just how SUPER you are, we are challenging you to take a #SuperParkSelfie every week this July. Head out to your nearest park or recreation center and show us how parks and rec super power your life.

Each week has a different selfie theme:

  • July 4-10: Selfie with nature!
  • July 11-17: Selfie doing something healthy!
  • July 18-24: Selfie with your friends and community!
  • July 25-31: Selfie showing your superhero side!

You’ll be able to submit your selfie via this page, Facebook or by sharing the photo on Twitter and Instagram. Check out information on the prizes and how to enter on the contest page here.

When you share your selfie on social media, please use the AHA Texas Advocacy hashtag #YoureTheCureTX in addition to #SuperParkSelfie and #SuperJuly.  

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Mock Vending is Causing a Buzz!

We have been working on a healthy vending bill to requiring State Buildings to have healthier options in their vending machines. We put on display “mock vending machines” and it created a buzz. I have included the State House News Article below

Examining the contents of a mock vending machine displayed in his office last week, Rep. Stephen Kulik found a surprise. "Whole-grain Goldfish -- I didn't even know those existed," Kulik said, peering at a banner depicting a life-size vending machine stocked with snacks like crackers, pumpkin seeds, seltzer and hummus

The banners are traveling through the State House, making stops in or outside lawmakers' offices in an attempt to drum up awareness and support for a bill that would require any food or drinks sold in vending machines on state property "be limited to food and beverage items that comply with the nutritional standards" to be set by the Department of Public Health commissioner.

Backed by the American Heart Association, the bill (H 3988) was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee in May after earning an endorsement from the Health Care Financing Committee. The bill is a Public Health Committee redraft of legislation originally filed by Kulik (H 2005) in January 2015.  "This is a bill that I have cosponsored for I think two sessions, and the support has been growing as people are more interested in healthy foods," Kulik said.

The bill lays out three different sets of nutrition and food procurement standards that the state regulations would have to meet or exceed, ranging from a requirement that all food options be healthy to 30 percent healthy on the low end. The American Heart Association advocates for the middle set of standards, which calls for 50 percent healthy contents.

Outside Rep. Louis Kafka's first-floor office earlier this week, the banners -- which display the words, "Food for thought...Wish you could grab a healthy snack? Support Healthy Vending" -- were within the line of sight of two actual vending machines stocked with soda, potato chips and candy bars.

Kulik said his current go-to snack at the State House vending machines is one that wouldn't earn a designation of health food: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Gesturing at the snacks displayed on the healthy vending banner, he said he thinks that choice could change with other options available.

"You know, if there was some dried fruit for example, that would be a great opportunity," the Worthington Democrat said. "I see some granola bars and things in here that I would reach for, some packages of nuts. It would be great. I would be happy to buy those."

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July Means Healthier Eating Statewide

One of the great things that happened when you flipped your calendar on July 1st was that that’s the day the state of Vermont began requiring state agencies to meet nutrition standards for the foods they sell and serve. And you’re part of the reason!

We advocated this past legislative session for legislation requiring nutrition standards for state government in vending, food service and institutions. We wanted state government to walk the walk so other businesses and organizations across Vermont would follow suit. The legislation passed, the governor signed it into law in May and the health department just released its nutrition standards last Friday!

Thanks for helping us make this a reality! Vermont is currently the only state to require nutrition standards in all three areas!

Please take a moment to thank the members of the Senate Health and Welfare and House Health Care Committees who gave their support to this effort. They were true champions and we couldn’t have done it without them. Take action at: https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx

Here’s to healthy eating in Vermont!

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Helping Us Fight the Silent Killer

High blood pressure is called The Silent Killer for a reason.  It has no symptoms, so you may not be aware that it's damaging your arteries, heart and other organs. When left untreated, possible health consequences can include heart disease, heart attack, stroke and congestive heart failure.

But, the sad fact is that too many people have high blood pressure. Currently in Vermont, 31% of adults suffer from high blood pressure. That means 128,688 people! And that number is predicted to climb to more than 174,000 people by 2030 if current obesity trends continue.

That’s why we’re excited by an effort by one of our Vermont partners, the YMCA, to treat high blood pressure. The Y’s Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program helps adults with hypertension to lower and manage their blood pressure. With the help of a Healthy Heart Ambassador, the four month program focuses on regulated home self-monitoring of a person’s blood pressure and the participant is provided with individualized consultations and nutrition education for better blood pressure management.

The program will include nutrition education seminars each month that focus on dietary approaches to reducing hypertension, reducing sodium intake, shopping, cooking and food preparation, and eating for your heart.

A really neat bonus to the program in our area is a 30 day family membership at the Greater Burlington YMCA. Find out more and see if you're eligible by contacting Kristin Magnant at kmagnant@gbymca.org or at (802) 652-8196 .

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