By Rebecca Jones
Women have a lot to worry about these days from the Big C to the Big 4 O. With heart disease taking the lead as the number one killer of women in this country 41 million of us have one more thing we need to be concerned about. It’s not all bad news though, a new Swedish study of 24,000 women has concluded that a few basic lifestyle changes can decrease your risk of heart disease by up to 92%. Drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking, getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy BMI are the most important contributing factors to a healthy heart. It might sound like a lot to take on all at once but making a few small changes every week can have a huge impact on your heart health overtime.
Drinking green tea is an easy and painless way to incorporate more antioxidants into your diet. Antioxidants can reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, they are also believed to prevent stroke and cancer, all this in a few cups of tea! Check labels at the grocery store to avoid trans fat, mostly found in processed food, instead opting for items with monounsaturated fats found in foods like avocados and nuts. Substitute olive oil for butter and vegetable oil and you will not only get healthy fats but a good dose of antioxidants as well. Strive for one serving of fish per week the omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 52%. Work in more fruits, vegetables and 25-30 grams of fiber everyday and you are well on your way to a healthy heart.
No reason to get intimidated, just 2 1/2 hours a week (about 20 minutes a day) ran reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 33%. If you don’t want to commit to the gym just taking the stairs or walking the dog can get you up and moving. Research has shown that little bits of activity all day long is ultimately healthier than spending an hour at the gym and then sitting the rest of the day. To keep your body healthy and your arteries pliable try stretching for 15 minutes everyday. First thing in the morning or before bed stretching can also reduce stress and promote relaxation.
It’s never too late to quit. Not only is it important not to smoke yourself be sure to avoid second hand smoke as well. It is believed that being in a smoky environment can be 80% as bad for you as first hand smoking.
Consume a Moderate Amount of Alcohol
Wine drinkers rejoice! Researchers have found that consuming one alcoholic beverage a day is good for your heart. Just be aware of serving sizes, one glass of wine is equal to 5oz a lot less than most of us will get served at a restaurant.
Maintain a Healthy BMI
No getting around it, obesity is a leading cause of heart disease. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels rise, so does blood pressure and your risk of diabetes. With between 60 and 70% of Americans overweight the impact of BMI (Body Mass Index) on heart health cannot be over looked.
It may seem that you have your work cut out for you but don’t despair small changes count. Try setting small goals like olive oil on the dinner table or one more trip around the block with the family dog. Little changes add up to a healthier lifestyle and ultimately a healthier heart.