February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the biggest killer of men and women in the United States. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women and kills more women than ALL cancers combined. It’s safe to say everyone probably knows someone who has suffered a heart attack or has some type of heart disease. Something not everyone realizes is heart disease is almost entirely preventable. Taking care of yourself by eating the right foods and being active can prevent heart disease and even reverse the build up of plaque.
To achieve an ideal heart healthy lifestyle:
- Your blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHg without medication
- Your total cholesterol should be less than 200mg/dl without medication
- Your fasting blood sugar should be less than 100mg/dl without medication
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Do not smoke
- Perform 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes vigorous exercise a week
- Eat a diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high fiber foods, and fish 2x a week
- Limited saturated fat, cholesterol, alcohol, sodium, sugar and avoid trans fats
For more specific information for your age you can go to the Red for Women website.
Certain foods are especially good for a healthy heart.
Red Wine (and dark beers like stouts) has polyphenols that keep blood vessels flexible and prevent clotting. Any alcohol increases HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Remember, more than one glass a day increases breast cancer risk for women and heavy drinking does more damage to the heart than good.