Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States? Do you have a history of poor heart health in your family?
It’s never too early or too late for you to start making your heart health a priority. One of the best things you can do to minimize your risk of heart disease is to change the way you eat.
If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to improving your diet, keep reading. Explained below is the reasoning behind the best heart-healthy diet menu for women.
Women and Heart Disease
Gender plays a significant role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, as well as the symptoms they experience.
Women who have heart problems often don’t get diagnosed as early as their male counterparts because their symptoms look different than what doctors are used to seeing.
The following are some specific symptoms women might experience when having a heart attack:
- Heaviness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Back, neck, or jaw pain
It’s also harder for doctors to diagnose conditions like coronary artery disease (also known as CAD) in women.
In women, CAD often affects the smaller arteries. These arteries aren’t easily visible on an angiogram. Doctors may give women the all-clear because they don’t see any issues at first glance.
How Diet Affects Heart Health
Working with a doctor who specializes in helping women with heart problems is key when it comes to getting early diagnoses and proper treatment.
There are also a lot of things women can do on their own to improve their heart health and reduce their need for treatment, though. This includes making changes to their diets.
Diet plays a significant role in everyone’s heart health. Eating an unhealthy diet can result in a variety of issues — including obesity and high blood pressure — that affect the heart’s ability to pump blood and function as well as it should.
Ultimate Heart-Healthy Diet Menu for Women
Okay, so diet plays a role in promoting good heart health. What kind of diet should you be eating, though?
There’s no one magic diet that works well for everyone when it comes to preventing heart disease. We’re all individuals, and what works for someone else might not work for you.
At the same time, there are some foods that have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. These foods ought to be staples in your diet:
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are full of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are great for your heart, reduce oxidative damage from free radicals, and promote good cellular health throughout the body.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale contain lots of antioxidants to prevent cellular damage. They also contain vitamin K, which promotes proper blood clotting.
Berries are also rich in antioxidants. They’ve also been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol (which, when elevated, can increase heart disease risk), improve blood clotting, and lower blood pressure.
Avocados contain a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats. These fats help to lower LDL cholesterol levels. They also contain potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.
Many people associate walnuts with good brain health. They’re definitely good for your brain, but they’re good for your heart, too. They’re packed with healthy minerals like magnesium, copper, and manganese, and they can help lower LDL cholesterol.
Beans contain lots of fiber. Consuming adequate amounts of fiber can help to lower LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels. It also promotes feelings of fullness and can help those who need to lose weight to avoid overeating.
Dark chocolate contains tons of beneficial antioxidants. The key is to choose a chocolate that contains little sugar and is comprised mainly of cacao. Look for bars that are at least 70 percent cacao for the greatest health benefits.
Olive oil is another good source of monounsaturated fats. It contains lots of antioxidants, too, and helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body and lower blood pressure.
Foods to Avoid for Good Heart Health
These foods are all good ones to consume if you want to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. There are also some foods you ought to avoid at the same time, including the following:
Sugar in any man-made form — soda, candy, baked goods, etc. — is not good for your heart.
Overconsuming sugar can result in insulin resistance and chronically elevated blood sugar. This is a precursor to diabetes and can contribute to vascular damage, which increases one’s risk of developing heart disease.
Processed carbohydrates like chips, cookies, and crackers aren’t good for your heart, either.
They can also promote insulin resistance and contribute to high blood sugar levels. They also are hyper-palatable and easy to over-consume, which isn’t great for people who need to lose weight in order to achieve better health markers.
Research organizations that study subjects like the interventional cardiology market have found that margarine, which was once touted as a heart-healthy food, is actually one of the worst things you can consume if heart-health is a priority.
Margarine is loaded with trans fats, which have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and are unhealthy in even small quantities.
Start Improving Heart-Health Today
As you can see, your diet has a significant impact on your overall heart health. Just about everyone can benefit from taking steps to improving their heart health, but women, specifically, ought to make it a priority.
By making some changes to the food you eat and doing your best to stick to the ultimate heart-healthy diet menu, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, increase your lifespan, and improve your overall quality of life. Who wouldn’t want that?
Do you want to learn more about improving your health and living a healthier lifestyle? If so, be sure to visit the Fitness section of our website today for more information.