National Health Observances: February 2012

Heart Health Month

Communities, workplaces, even buildings went red on Friday to raise awareness of heart disease, which remains the number one killer in the U.S. of men and women.

February is a great time to emphasize lifestyle choices that improve heart health — eating well, being physically active and quitting smoking.

– Host a cooking class at your workplace or a local community center. Focus on heart-healthy foods that are low in sodium and saturated fat and feature whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Or include some easy heart-healthy recipes with paychecks or in your employee newsletter.

– Start a lunchtime walking group, an in-office yoga class or a daily stretching session for stress relief. Teach employees to measure their heart rate before and after physical activity.

– Raise awareness in your workplace of heart attack warning signs.

– Hold a CPR workshop.

National Cancer Prevention Month

A major 2011 study suggests that 40% of all cancers are preventable. The same lifestyle choices that prevent heart disease and stroke can help prevent cancer: quit smoking, limit alcohol, eat a balanced diet and get enough physical activity.

The American Institute for Cancer Research has compiled a number of resources on their website, including the New American Plate system of meal planning, a nutrition hotline and downloadable publications.

Here’s a recipe for broccoli salad with peanut dressing. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of cancer-preventing vitamins C, B, and K, as well as folate, fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene.

4 cups broccoli florets
1 medium red bell pepper, cut in thin strips, about 1 cup
1/3 cup red onion, cut in thin crescents
3 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter, natural and unsweetened
2 tsp. roasted sesame oil
1-2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. agave syrup
Pinch of salt
Ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)

Place steamer basket in large saucepan. Add water to depth of 1 inch. Cover and bring the water to boil. Add broccoli, cover and steam over medium-high heat until tender-crisp, 3 minutes.

Transfer broccoli to mixing bowl. Add bell pepper and onion.

In small bowl, combine peanut butter and sesame oil. Add vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce and agave and whisk until dressing is smooth. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables and use fork to toss until salad is well coated.

Sprinkle on red pepper flakes, if using, and mix to combine. Cover, and refrigerate the salad for 1 hour before serving, or up to 24 hours. Toss well before serving.

Resources for 2012 National Health Observances

Download our free 2012 Wellness Activity Planner for a complete list of 2012 National Health Observances.

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine offers a wide range of products that can help you plan and promote national health observances in your workplace. For February, those resources include a Cardiac CareKit, Heart Health refrigerator magnets, and Permafolds on Heart Health, Healthy Eating, High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack Warning Signs, and Preventing Cancer.

We’re offering 10% off healthy heart and cancer prevention products through Feb. 29, 2012 — contact us for details.