Now is the time to eat away at heart disease!
Fighting back against the number-one killer is as easy as eating a few more veggies today!
The number one killer of women is still heart disease. (Yes, still in 2018. Unbelievable.) And it still surprises me that only about half of women realize this. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) data shows that almost 300,000 women die annually from heart disease. That so many women die each year from this insidious disease continues to shock me. Why? Because so many heart disease risk factors are modifiable. Yes, that’s right. Modifiable.
So in honor of February being American Heart Month, let’s get to it. Let’s modify our risk of heart disease! The top risk factors that we can modify: food, exercise, stress management and tobacco exposure. I’m all about good food and simple ways to prepare it, so for this post, I’m focusing on food.
Our nutritional choices are a great way to reduce our risk. Tis true: you can practically eat your way out of being at high risk for heart disease. Every day we make over a thousand choices that impact our health, which means you can choose the right thing again and again. . .and again. As importantly, if you don’t make a great choice, you’ve got at least nine hundred and ninety more opportunities to make the right choice.
Radically changing your diet though is tough, even for those of us who are truly motivated. If you regularly eat meat nightly for dinner, for example, then consider making non-meat dinner choices changes slowly. Beans, legumes, tofu and vegetable-based dishes are so delicious and easy to prepare. Perhaps you can make one night per week meat-less to start (i.e. ‘Meatless Mondays’). Fortunately, there are many resources to help you figure out what to make for those dinners. You can search the many blogs with vegetarian-based recipes, browse shelves of vegetarian cookbooks, or go to one of the growing number of vegetarian or vegan restaurants out there to taste what chefs are coming up with in your area. My current favorite source of inspiration: Instagram! A plethora of gorgeous accounts with an abundance of photographs and accompanying recipes has revamped how I think about what to make for dinner. It’s not unusual any more for me to see an image in the morning online and plan that evening’s dinner around it. Of note, though, I routinely modify those recipes to use what I have on hand.
A heart-healthy lifestyle starts with just a step in the right direction. Maybe it’s a simple as eating more fruits and vegetables. The goal is 5 servings a day. That doesn’t sound daunting to me anymore, but it used to seem like a lot. If you’re used to cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and the proverbial meat and potatoes for dinner (aka ‘an American or Western diet’) then you are nowhere near getting 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. How to do this when you’re busy and overwhelmed: you can do what I did when I first started to consciously increase my fruits and vegetable intake. I added handfuls of raisins to my cereal (hot or cold, whatever was on hand); I added avocado to my sandwiches; and I purchased pre-washed greens and added them by the bagful to whatever I make for dinner. Simple steps for big results.