Keeping your heart healthy

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Making a few healthy lifestyle changes may lead to less heart disease.

October 28, 2013 - Author: Eileen Haraminac, Eileen Haraminac, Michigan State University Extension, Nicole Kolin, MSU Intern

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women? One in three deaths in women is caused by heart disease. It is never too late to make a few healthy lifestyle changes. Here are some tips from Michigan State University Extension:

  • Fruits and vegetables do matter. Fruits and vegetables provide us with fiber to help us feel satisfied, but are low in calories and fat. Fruits and vegetables also provide us with vitamins and minerals that are not found in other foods. Adding fruits and vegetables to a meal is a great way to “color” your plate.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products more often. Low-fat and fat-free dairy products still have all of the vitamins and minerals that are important; they just have less calories and fat.
  • Watch the types of fats you consume. Use oil such as olive oil or canola oil, instead of butter when cooking. Fats that are solid at room temperature tend to be higher in saturated fat. Would you rather have liquid flowing through your arteries or solid fat trying to flow through your arteries? Try to incorporate fats that are liquid at room temperature.
  • The power of protein! Try cooking chicken, turkey or fish more often. These meats are lower in fat compared to beef and pork. You could even try swapping the meat in a recipe for beans instead. Beans are a great source of protein, high in fiber and low in fat.
  • Reduce sodium. Sodium narrows our blood vessels, which is the cause of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to heart problems. Foods that tend to be high in sodium include canned foods such as vegetables and soups, crackers, chips, frozen dinner meals and deli meats. Ways to cut back on sodium are:
  • Choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables more often than canned items.
  • Look at the sodium content on crackers and chips. Try to look for foods that have less sodium (in milligrams) per serving compared to the amount of calories per serving.
  • Cooking from starch. Boxed meals and premade dinners are loaded with sodium.
  • Season your food with pepper, vinegar or lemon juice instead of salt.
  • Water, water, water! It is important to drink water to keep our bodies healthy. Even though juice, soda, and sports drinks help keep us hydrated, they have a lot of sugar and calories.

To learn more about Heart Disease visit the American Heart Association website, or to learn about how heart disease specifically affects women visit Go Red for Women.

Tags: aging, chronic disease, food & health, msu extension

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