NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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February is Heart Month - Make Blood Pressure Control Your Goal

February is Heart Month
Make Blood Pressure Control Your Goal


            For February 2016, American Heart Month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Million Hearts organization are making a national effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States by 2017.  A major part of that effort is encouraging Americans to know their blood pressure, and if it's high, to make control their goal.

            Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. In fact, more than 67 million Americans have high blood pressure.1 People with high blood pressure are 4 times more likely to die from a stroke and 3 times more likely to die from heart disease, compared to those with normal blood pressure.2

            High blood pressure often shows no signs or symptoms, which is why having your blood pressure checked regularly is important. It's easy to get your blood pressure checked. You can get screened at your doctor's office and drugstores or even check it yourself at home, using a home blood pressure monitor.

            If you know you have high blood pressure, take these steps to help

            - Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your pressure with your doctor and talk about how you can reach your goal. Work with your health care team to make sure you meet that goal. Track your blood pressure over time.

            - Take your blood pressure medicine as directed. Set a timer on your phone to remember to take your medicine at the same time each day. If you are having trouble taking your medicines on time or paying for your medicines, or if you are having side effects, ask your doctor for help.

            - Quit smoking—and if you don't smoke, don't start. You can find tips and resources at CDC's Smoking and Tobacco website.at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking/index.htm         

            -Make healthy choices.   Exercise can be a great way to help control your blood pressure. Find a safe place to walk or be more active. Increase the time and intensity of your physical activity as you progress.  Shop for more fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains and fewer prepared foods with high sodium, cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat.

            -Reduce sodium intake. Most Americans consume too much sodium, which can raise blood pressure. Learn to read labels and choose foods lower in sodium. The Million Hearts website shares the following revision of a long-standing favorite – tacos.


The Eating Well Taco

Makes:  6 servings, 2 filled tacos each



Homemade Taco Shells

  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided

Taco Meat

  • 8 ounces 93%-lean ground beef
  • 8 ounces 99%-lean ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano


  • To prepare taco shells: Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Working with 6 tortillas at a time, wrap in a barely damp cloth or paper towel and microwave on High until steamed, about 30 seconds. Lay the tortillas on a clean work surface and coat both sides with cooking spray; sprinkle a little chili powder and salt on one side. Carefully drape each tortilla over two bars of the oven rack. Bake until crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining 6 tortillas.
  • To prepare taco meat: Place beef, turkey and onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a colander to drain off fat. Wipe out the pan. Return the meat to the pan and add tomatoes, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 6 minutes.
  • To assemble tacos: Fill each shell with a generous 3 tablespoons taco meat, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon each cheese, tomato and salsa and 1 teaspoon onion.
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