A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease and it’s not as hard as you may think! Make simple steps part of your life in 2018 for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.
You can start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. Nutrition and calorie information on food labels is typically based on a 2,000 calorie diet. You may need fewer or more calories depending on several factors including age, gender, and level of physical activity.
While you may be eating the right amount of calories, your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have minerals, protein, whole grains and other nutrients but are lower in calories. They may help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:
- a variety of fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- low-fat dairy products
- skinless poultry and fish
- nuts and legumes
- non-tropical vegetable oils
- Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.
While it might be easy to stay healthy when you have a grocery store nearby, some people live in food deserts, meaning they are in an area that does not have an easily accessible supply of healthy foods. Oftentimes, owners of small stores, like bodegas and corner stores, would like to sell healthier food to their customers, but lack the resources to do so. Programs like the NJ Healthy Corner Store Initiative provide assistance with training, marketing materials, consumer education resources and equipment. The program is cost-effective because we are working with existing stores and the infrastructure to sell food is already in place.
“Access to a full-size supermarket may be something many of us take for granted but for our most vulnerable populations it is a challenge when supermarkets are not easily accessible. Our corner stores serve often times as the only source of food for our underserved community,” stated Emma Lopez, Assistant Health Office, Vineland Department of Health.
She continued, “For Live Healthy Vineland to truly begin to make an impact in our community, the first step to getting Vineland residents to eat healthier is giving them a choice. That is why, Live Healthy Vineland created our Healthy Corner Store Network, which we now boast has 28 participating corner stores who have been part of the network for 3 years. Our corner stores not only provide healthy options for their customers, but they host health screenings and allow providers to come in and use their store fronts to reach the public. It’s a win-win strategy for our residents and store owners. The screenings increase foot traffic, health educators conduct the risk assessments and make referrals which ultimately helps individuals move towards healthy lifestyle changes. We are very proud of our program and of the owners of these stores who have continued to be a vital resource for our Vineland residents.”
If you would like to see more NJ residents have access to healthier foods, please consider reaching out to your state representative to encourage them to support the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act, which would provide small stores with the resources they need.
Please use the talking points below to write an email to your Assembly members, Senators and the new Governor-Elect about the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact Corinne Orlando at [email protected] or (609)223-3720.
- The USDA estimates that as many as 1.5 million NJ residents live in “food deserts” throughout the state with limited access to healthy food.
- In 2009, The Food Trust released a report estimating that New Jersey has 269 too few supermarkets to adequately serve the population of the state.
- The Associated Press released a study stating that only 3 of the 40 supermarkets that opened in New Jersey between 2011 and 2015 were located in high-need areas.
- The New Jersey Healthy Corner Store Initiative began in 5 communities and has since expanded throughout NJ. Community partners have been working with business owners to provide training, marketing materials, educational materials and programs for customers to learn how to use healthy products, and in some cases refrigeration and other needed equipment.