First lady works to keep everyone's heart healthy

University of South Carolina’s First Lady Patricia Moore-Pastides wears many hats – cook, author and gardener to name a few – but during Heart Health Awareness month, Moore-Pastides will don yet another: award recipient.

On Tuesday (Feb. 23), the Palmetto Center for Women, formerly the YWCA of the Midlands, will honor Moore-Pastides for her commitment to health and wellness in the Carolina community. The award recognizes local women leaders for their involvement in and contribution to the greater Columbia area. Moore-Pastides will join the ranks of over 700 women who have received this honor since the award’s inception in 1980.

The award highlights the many ways Moore-Pastides supports the health of the community, beginning with healthy eating and organic gardening. She has written two Greek cookbooks that demonstrate the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, and she champions the weekly Healthy Carolina Farmers Market as a source of nutritious foods for the Carolina campus and beyond.

Both Mediterranean food samples and Healthy Carolina representatives will be present at another arm of Moore-Pastides’ efforts to encourage a healthy lifestyle and disease prevention: the annual Heart Health Expo, also set for Feb. 23.

Moore-Pastides will host the annual expo for Carolina students, faculty, staff and members of the community. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United States, so Moore-Pastides uses this expo, and the American Heart Association’s Midlands Heart Walk on March 12, to raise awareness that it’s important to start heart healthy habits at an early age.

“So many heart health problems can be prevented. Even though you may be predisposed to certain diseases, they can be turned on and turned off,” Moore-Pastides says. “It depends mostly on how you live. The three keys are avoiding tobacco products, moving your body every day and eating a traditional Mediterranean diet. Prevention should be our focus. Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., scientists say that it is 80 percent preventable.”

In addition to free food samples, the expo will also feature interactive exercise demonstrations, free health screenings and information on how to take the first steps toward a heart healthy lifestyle. Attendees who sign up to walk with Team USC at the expo will receive a voucher for a free meal from Carolina Dining.

The expo will take place at the Russell House Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 1p.m. Feb. 23. It is free and open to the public, and faculty, staff and students are encouraged to bring their Carolina Card. Visit the Midlands Heart Walk website for more information about the Midlands Heart Walk and to sign up to walk with Team USC.


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