Did you know that the No. 1 cause of death for women in the United States is heart disease? Yes, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease is no longer a “man’s disease” – it effects women too! In fact, heart disease accounts for one in three deaths in the United States today.
Heart disease is also known as cardiovascular disease which includes conditions that affect the structures or function of our hearts, including coronary artery disease (narrowing of the arteries), heart attack, arrhythmias (abnormal rhythms), and heart failure, among others.
The good news is that most heart disease is preventable. Over 80% of cardiac events, especially coronary artery disease, can be prevented. Although there are risk factors that we cannot control like our family history, our age and gender, there are many factors that we can control.
So, what can we control? Our lifestyle choices!
We can choose to quit smoking, increase our activity level, maintain a desirable body weight, and pay more attention to what we’re eating. Heart-healthy eating is more attainable than you might think.
Here are some simple tips to help get you and your family started on eating “heart healthy”!
Eat more fish! It may sound simple, but it works. We know that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease, and fish are the best natural source of omega-3s. Current guidelines recommend that everyone — including pregnant and breastfeeding women and children — eat a variety of fish at least twice a week. And by a variety of fish, I do mean a variety; it could be salmon, canned tuna, tilapia, catfish, you name it. Fish can be easy to incorporate into your diet. Recipes can be found on Pinterest and many other heart healthy sites.
Photo source: www.bewellbarroncounty.org
Weigh in once a week. Keeping your weight in check is a cornerstone to maintaining a healthy heart. Portion control and moderation are always key. Try not to deprive yourself in your diet but find healthier alternatives. Rather than potato chips and onion dip, choose carrots and celery sticks with a savory hummus. See the delicious recipe that I added at end of this blog.
Image from Live Healthy Live Well
Get creative with high-fiber foods. Dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease. Add chia or flax seeds to your smoothies, top desserts and even entrees with chopped nuts, experiment with baked goods by substituting ¼ of the flour for whole grain flour or try other high fiber grains such as quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat.
Go easy on the salt — Research has shown that eating too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure, so look for other ways to season your foods. Spices, fresh herbs, lemon or orange juice, and onions are some of my favorites both when cooking and at the table. Here is a link to a wonderful site to get organic, GMO-free, spices. www.healthyonyou.com
Choose healthy cooking methods — Skip the added fat called for in packaged rice and pasta mixes and season with fresh herbs and spices instead of oil and salt. Marinating in citrus juices will reduce using high fat sauces. Grilling and broiling will reduce the fat without sacrificing taste and texture.
Here is a link below to make the best hummus ever. I’ve made it myself and I must say it’s even better than store bought!