A Little Background on Heart Disease and Heart Health:
Cardiovascular disease is a serious health problem in our country, ladies. But often, men get more attention from their doctors regarding heart health than women do. Yes, it’s important for both men and women, but we want to make sure women to get the message that they need to make their heart health a priority. Some alarming facts about women and heart disease:
- One woman dies from heart disease every minute in the U.S.
- Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined.
- Since 1984, more women in the US than men have died from heart disease.
- 42% of women die within one year of having a heart attack compared to 24% of men.
- Signs and symptoms of a heart attack are different in men and women. Know the differences.
Common Types of Heart Disease in Women
Coronary artery disease: The most common heart disease—and the leading cause of death for women1—is caused by plaque in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to your heart and other parts of your body. After menopause, women are at a higher risk of coronary artery disease because of hormonal changes.
Arrhythmia: This condition is when your heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way. A common example is atrial fibrillation.
Heart failure: Heart failure is when your heart is too weak to pump enough blood to support other organs in your body. This condition is serious, but it doesn’t mean your heart has stopped beating.
What You Can Control
We must keep an eye on our heart health, ladies, especially those of you with a strong family history. Even if you exercise, eat right, and think you are in great shape, the need to get an assessment of your heart health is crucial and potentially life saving. Some risk factors for heart disease we cannot control. However, what we eat is something we CAN control! Foods high in fiber can help decrease cholesterol. Getting plenty of antioxidants is important to help limit inflammation in the arteries, decreasing the likelihood of plaque buildup.
Here are the 5 things to focus on eating for heart health:
- Choosing the right type and amount of fat
- Limiting your salt intake
- Increasing dietary fiber intake
- Limiting added sugar
- Choosing lean cuts of meat
Listed below are foods you should include in your diet:
- Beans – an excellent protein source with tons of fiber
- Fruits & Vegetables – loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber
- Fish – High in omega-3’s (protective against heart disease), possibly help reduce blood clotting, decrease inflammation, lower triglycerides
- Whole Grains – high fiber and lots of vitamins/minerals, low glycemic index
- Healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts) – can improve cholesterol levels
Check out our other blog that goes into more detail on what to eat for a healthy heart!
Exercise and Heart Health
Here are three types of exercise and their role in heart health:
Elevating your heart rate with aerobic activity is an important component of a heart-healthy exercise routine, ladies! Walking, running, biking, swimming, and other aerobic activities get your blood pumping and strengthen your heart. It is recommended that 150 minutes/week of moderate aerobic exercise can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Bonus, it can help lower blood sugar as well!
Strength training helps build lean muscle mass and decreases body fat, which in turn can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps maintain a healthy body weight. Women sometimes get scared that they will “bulk up,” but that is not the case! Examples are lifting weights, practicing yoga, or outdoor activities like gardening, like digging and shoveling. Doing these exercises two times per week will benefit your heart’s health ladies!
Flexibility and Balance
Maintaining flexibility and balance has a more indirect impact on your heart. Flexibility allows you to engage in aerobic and strengthening activities more easily, and lessens joint and muscle pain. Maintaining balance prevents falls and injuries, as well.
So while exercises like tai chi, pilates and stretching might not directly affect your heart health, they keep you in shape to do the heart-healthy activities you love.
Look at our other blog for more info on exercising for heart health!
Heart Health Meal Planner
To make food prep and planning hassle-free, we also have an amazing meal planning app that provides recipes, grocery lists, and nutrition facts that make eating healthy a lot easier, ladies.
How You Can Receive Individualized Support for Your Heart Health
There is so much to learn and so many ways we can improve cardiovascular health that it’s impossible to squeeze it into one blog! At Anderson’s Nutrition, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) can give you the education, support, and guidance you need to keep your heart in shape. We provide individualized health coaching and nutrition education that guides you in the creation of your own goals, leading to improved health outcomes.
Ladies, if you are over 40 years old and have a family history of heart disease, make an appointment with a cardiologist today and learn as much as you can about YOUR cardiovascular health. Secondly, don’t go it alone! Get compassionate, individualized health coaching and nutrition education from an expert. Click here to schedule an appointment.
We now offer packages that include both nutrition counseling and fitness! Click the icons to learn more.
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