By Sonia Bhala / Health Columnist
Although the month of Valentine’s Day had passed, hearts continued to flourish throughout March at Raritan Valley Community College. This is because RVCC takes an interest not only in strengthening the brains of its students, but keeping their hearts healthy as well. During the entire month of March, RVCC celebrated “Heart Health Month”, attempting to raise awareness about the number one cause of death for both men and women: cardiovascular disease.
RVCC provided information about improving one’s cardiovascular health by setting up a “Heart Health Month” bulletin board in the second floor of Hunterdon Hall, located near the nursing classrooms, and heart health information tables across from the “Purple Wall” in the College Center. In addition to increasing awareness for cardiovascular disorders, free fruit was distributed in order to encourage students to eat healthy, and “Go Red” pins and information about American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” program was given out.
“Go Red for Women” is a national movement designed to promote that, contrary to popular opinion, cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure and stroke do not only plague men. Although heart disease is stereotypically considered a “man’s disease,” 292,188 women died in 2009 from heart disease and it is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for approximately 25% of all female deaths.
So how do you fight this? The answer is simple: Go Red.
According to the American Heart Association, a woman who “Goes Red”:
- Takes action to reduce her risk of heart disease.
- Exercises regularly.
- Already has and will maintain a healthy weight or is working towards one.
- Has had her cholesterol checked.
- Eats healthy food.
- Gets physical exams done yearly.
- Encourages others to live a healthy “Go Red” lifestyle.
As someone who has a family history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and who was recently diagnosed with borderline high cholesterol, I have taken an oath to “Go Red” and I encourage other students to do the same. You can do so by using the free Fitness Center located in the Physical Education Building. You can also choose the cooked meals in the cafeteria, which a board of professional nutritionists who work for Culinarts sometimes suggest to the head chefs, as opposed to chips and other unhealthful food options. The Culinarts cafeteria at RVCC contains plenty of healthful food options including 500 calorie or less meal options, cream soup thickened with corn starch and not fat, cooking oils that do not contain trans fat, two vegetable choices per day, starches and vegetarian/vegan meals at their cooked lunch section.
The head chef of RVCC’s cafeteria has a heart condition and is conscious of always putting out healthful food options, even though they don't sell as well as unhealthful options like chicken fingers and fries. He is also always open to suggestions. For example, somebody once asked him for tofu and the next day he put it out. RVCC has taken all the steps it can to ensure that you have the required resources to live a healthy lifestyle. The rest is up to you!