UF/IFAS Extension Celebrates National Heart Health Month with Innovative Programs

ORLANDO, Fla. – February is National Heart Health Month, and agents with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension are gearing up with programs to help central Florida residents get and stay healthy.

“Heart disease accounted for 21.9 percent of all deaths in Orange County in 2017; that doesn’t include all of central Florida,” said Virgilia Zabala, a registered dietician and agent with UF/IFAS Orange County Extension. “Heart disease is the second-leading cause of death, so it’s a big problem in our community. We want to help residents make lifestyle modifications so that they can live longer, healthier, productive lives.”

Orange County residents can participate in three current programs:

  • Keeping the Pressure Down: “There are two overall goals of the program. The first goal is to reduce risk of hypertension among program participants who are at high risk for the condition. The second goal is to reduce blood pressure in those participants who already have high blood pressure,” said Jana Anderson, an agent with UF/IFAS Extension Orange County. “Meeting these goals will contribute to reduced future risk of coronary heart disease and stroke among program participants.”
  • Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: This program offers 16 weekly healthy eating and physical activity coaching sessions (every Tuesday). Maintenance classes are then held bi-weekly/monthly/quarterly until the program ends.
  • Toward Permanent Weight Management: This is a 12-week program that encourages participants to engage in healthy lifestyle practices. Participants will attend weekly group meetings and have access to social support, healthy lifestyle resources and social media content.

For more information on any of the UF/IFAS Extension Orange County programs, call 407-254-9200.

UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County offers a pair of webinars to help with heart health:

  • Build a Better Breakfast: Friday, Feb. 22. Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Learn what the research says and find easy ways to start your day with a healthy breakfast. Registration: http://bit.ly/betterbrkfast


  • Healthy Lunches and Snacks: Friday, March 22. Maintain energy and concentration by eating a healthy lunch and snacks. Includes ideas, examples and recipes. Registration: http://bit.ly/uflunch


UF/IFAS Extension Lake County offers two workshops for heart health:

  • From Veggie Garden to Table: 10 a.m to noon, Feb. 16 at the Lake County Extension Center; 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares. Join UF/IFAS Extension agents Brooke Moffis and Mia Wilchcombe as they discuss vegetable garden harvesting and cooking techniques. Participants have the option to receive the “Vegetable Gardening in Florida” book by James M. Stephens with samples of vegetable dishes grown from the Discovery Gardens for $25. Participants can attend without the purchase of the book for $5 or pay $6 at the door. Register online at UFRootsUp.Eventbrite.com.
  • Master Food and Nutrition Volunteer Training: Begins March 1. Combine your love of cooking, nutrition, physical activity and helping others by becoming a UF/IFAS Extension Lake County Master Food and Nutrition Volunteer. Volunteers receive approximately 60 hours of training in food science, food safety and nutrition. For more information, call Mia Wilchcombe at 352-343-4101 ext. 2721 and set up your interview today.


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.


Posted: February 11, 2019

Category: Health & Nutrition, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, WORK & LIFE
Tags: Extension, Health, Heart, Lake County Extension, News, Orange County Extension, Seminole County Extension, UF/IFAS

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