A healthy heart and a fit body…. Sounds like the key to happiness and good health. Women have been long cajoled to believe that their heart is stronger than the heart of a man and they really don’t need to look after it much. But the truth is far from the assumption. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, cardiovascular diseases kill 17.3 million people around the globe every year out of which, women account for 8.6 million or nearly half of these deaths. According to the American Heart Association, one in every three women is living with heart disease.
The conventional belief that CVD is a man’s disease holds untrue with women getting in the picture. Factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol along with family history of CVD, smoking, alcohol and poor dietary habits are primarily responsible for this rise. Women being caregivers tend to ignore early symptoms of diseases leading to late diagnosis.
As you churn the numbers of your lipid profile…LDL and HDL cholesterol and try to understand the dynamics of your systolic and diastolic blood pressure….you may end up wondering what can be your contribution to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in the desired levels. Your cholesterol and BP have a direct effect on the health of your coronary arteries (that supply blood to the heart muscle) and hence on the condition of your heart.
A few steps listed below can save your heart, keep it healthy and prevent cardiovascular disease to a large extent:
- Increase your physical activity to at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, most days of the week.
- Follow a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat and non-fat dairy, with appropriate amounts of nuts/beans, whole grains, heart healthy fats, and protein rich foods, limiting salt, saturated and Trans fats, refined or processed foods, and added sugars. Heart healthy fats include omega-3 and monounsaturated fats.
- Limit alcohol and quit smoking
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Heart-healthy eating is an important way to lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. The good news about following a heart-healthy lifestyle and diet is that it’s also beneficial for your overall health. So when you keep your heart healthy, you’ll also feel great — and help yourself stay that way for years to come.
As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on some simple recommendations. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, they help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Eat a minimum of 3 servings or fruit and 6 servings of vegetables in the day (A serving size is 100 grams). Eat fruits whole with the skin intact. Do not de-skin or juice the fruits. Eat vegetables raw and as salad wherever possible. Choose vegetables that have a lot of fibre and select a variety of vegetables in all colours, greens, orange, red and yellow.
Include whole grains in your diet like oats, broken wheat, lentils, whole cereals, soyabean, ragi, buckwheat and corn. Snack on healthy nuts such as walnuts, almonds, dates and apricots. Include half a teaspoon of flaxseed in your daily diet. Eat oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring) twice a week. Select fat-free and low-fat dairy products. Cut back on foods containing hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce Trans fat in your diet such as cakes, croissants, cookies and salad dressings. Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Limit consumption of foods with added salt. Salt laden foods are packed and tinned food, chips, sauces, pickles and spreads. Keep an eye on your portion sizes. Eat small portions… never stuff yourself with too much food.
Keeping your heart pumping blood efficiently is very important for the health of vital organs and overall wellbeing. Compliment your good eating habits with regular moderate exercise and you have found the key to your healthy heart. Keep loving with all your heart, as it beats to the perfect rhythm……