Cardiovascular disease is America’s No. 1 killer, causing more deaths each year than cancer, diabetes and accidents, combined. And while there’s a myth that heart disease affects mostly men, today it is the leading cause of death in women, killing one in three. With Valentine’s Day approaching, thoughts automatically turn to matters of the heart. How can you make sure yours will keep going pitter-patter, without going ker-plunk? Let us count the ways…
- Lose excess weight. Obesity is the leading cause of heart disease.
- Exercise. More women than men are inactive, with about 60% not getting the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day.
- Don’t smoke. Smokers double their heart attack risk.
- Watch cholesterol. 55 million women have high cholesterol.
Start with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, including these “superfoods” rated tops by a survey of 525 registered dietitians across the country:
Oatmeal: Contains the soluble fiber beta glucan, which lowers cholesterol and boosts your immune system.
Soy: Soy protein helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol (for maximum benefit you need 25-50 grams/day).
Olive Oil: Contains monounsaturated fats to lower cholesterol. Other sources: avocados, nuts.
Blueberries: Contain antioxidants and vitamin C, which protect the arteries from damage from free radicals. Other sources: pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, oranges.
Bananas: Rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure.
Published February 11, 2004