In honor of Women’s History month it’s a good time to talk about women’s health. Although
women tend to have a longer life expectancy than men they are still likely to develop the same life threatening illnesses.
It may come as no surprise that Heart Disease tops the list. Statistics report that one out of every four women die of cardiovascular diseases starting as early as in their 20’s. It seems to be a high statistic for such a young age group but the average American diet is the biggest cause. It’s normal for the fastest most readily accessible food to be full of added sugars, high sodium and saturated fat. And although our heart may be able to detox from eating like this occasionally, when it’s eaten everyday that kind of food literally becomes a poison. Studies show that a heart beats up to 2.5 billion times in a lifetime. So what can we do to keep it going strong?
Fruits and vegetables are like nature’s cure. They’re perfect for heart health because they’re packed with nutrients, minerals and antioxidants. These natural chemicals help to remove plaque buildup, lower cholesterol and remove toxins from the arteries. Here is a list of a few that are best to eat frequently.
● Cabbage: Can last up to two months in the fridge, great to stock up and have on hand!
● Spinach: Full of iron, although vegetable iron isn’t as easily absorbed as the iron in
meats. You can increase your body’s absorption by having it with a squeeze of lemon.
Some people don’t really care for the taste of raw spinach. But if you toss it in a skillet for
3-4 minutes with a little garlic, olive oil and lemon it’s an energizing delight.
● Carrots: If you’re not one for the texture of carrots you can juice them into a sweet detoxifying juice! If you have a juicer or even a blender with a cheesecloth, blend carrots, an apple (for sweetness) and another vegetable of your liking to really say thank you to your arteries. They’ll thank you back!
● Apples: You could slice an apple into half or quarter pieces and spread peanut butter
(delicious, and also supplies the healthy fat that our body needs).
● Bananas: The perfect, non-toxic fast food. Packed with around 100 calories it can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
● Oranges: Another perfect grab and go item that you can pack in a lunch or even toss in your purse. The thick skin keeps it protected until you’re ready to peel and eat.
● Berries: Probably the most potent fruit group on the list. They’re packed with antioxidants that prevent damage to our cells and strengthen the lining of our arteries. They’re so versatile that you can eat them in smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal!
Other heart healthy foods include:
One of the simplest but highly effective ways of cutting artery clogging cholesterol is to switch the oils used for cooking. You could try coconut or extra virgin olive oil. A note of caution: If nothing else, it’s best to always buy your fruits and vegetables organic. It may seem costly but you’d be surprised how something like constant headaches could come from the pesticides in food. You can also talk to your doctor about starting a DASH diet plan. This diet could drastically help to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol if you need to start making a change ASAP.
Aerobic exercise is the best type of exercise for heart health. The name “aerobic” means
needing air or oxygen. When it’s used with exercise it helps the body bring oxygen to the muscles, lungs and heart. It helps to improve your cardiovascular circulation and reduces blood pressure levels. What’s great about aerobic exercise is it doesn’t have to be too difficult or intense. It has three levels of difficulty: light, moderate and vigorous. You can apply as much intensity as you prefer, just aim for 30 minutes a day, five days of the week. When you have good circulation your blood can carry nutrients through your system better and push cholesterol out of your arteries. Some common forms of aerobic exercise are:
– Jump rope
– Riding a bike
– Speed walking
This one may be the hardest to hear for some women. We know how smoking is bad for us but
it’s not easy to quit when your brain’s been addicted to the adrenaline rush of nicotine for years.
This is why exercise can be a powerful substitute. It will give you an even higher rush of adrenaline and endorphins. The important thing is to be patient with yourself but also to remember how deadly it is. Smoking can shorten your lifespan by 25 years. This is because smoking creates plaque buildup in blood vessels and arteries. When there’s plaques or clots in these vessels, our blood has a harder time reaching our heart. There are several ways to start the journey of quitting. Aerobics is one but also eating fruits and vegetables, drinking milk or ginseng tea, practising stress reduction and trying nicotine replacement therapy. It also helps to find a support group of people who can help keep you
accountable so that you can quit for good.
Arguably the most important thing we can do for our hearts is to relieve stress. Smoking or
drinking is not true stress relief. It’s a chemical that plays a trick on the mind while it tears us
apart from inside out. We just need to find a healthy way to deal with the demands of work, family and society. Stress is dangerous for the heart because it causes inflammation, high blood pressure and promotes bad cholesterol. So what can we do to truly bring ourselves into a calm state? Luckily,
the methods towards stress relief are endless. The big three which are talked about a lot are
exercise, meditation and yoga. Herbal remedies are an incredible and very ancient option as well. Two of the most common calming herbs are lavender and chamomile. You can drink them in tea form or even breathe their calming aroma with an oil warmer or oil diffuser. For even more ideas check out this article about 101 ways to reduce stress including watching a funny movie or even baking. With all this information we can set aside time each day for our hearts. This fast little organ works day and night with no time off to keep us alive. The least we can do is to help it stay strong so that we can live out our years to the fullest. Our friends and loved ones will thank us!
Take care, ladies!
This informative blog is brought to you by health coach and guest blogger Lisa G
At Compass for Affordable Housing we strive to provide you with the information and the tools you need to succeed