The heart of a woman
Small changes you can make to have a healthier heart
When you’re taking care of a family, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. But if you don’t, you’re putting yourself at risk for heart disease.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to involve a complete lifestyle makeover. It starts with small choices you make every day, like what you eat. Nutrition is important, especially because heart disease is women’s number one killer. It’s worth making some little changes that can have a big impact.
Make Good Food Choices
It’s a myth that healthy food doesn’t taste good — you can find food both healthy and delicious. If you make healthy eating a habit, you’ll gain a power- ful tool to help you control your weight, reduce elevated cholesterol and lower high blood pressure, all of which are risk factors for heart attack and stroke. Set the stage for success:
• Learn the meaning of healthy eating — it’s your diet over time that counts. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, low- fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish.
• Pay close attention to the type of fat in your food — avoid trans fat and aim for foods that are low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
• Make grocery shopping quick and easy. Use the American Heart Association’s heart- check mark as an easy way to find foods that have been screened and verified to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Visit heartcheckmark. org to create your personalized, heart- healthy list before you go to the store. Print it for future use, or access it from your Web- enabled mobile phone or PDA at mylist. heartcheckmark. org.
• Enjoy a large glass of ice water, hot tea or other calorie- free beverage, instead of a sugary soda. Garnish with a twist of lemon or lime.
• Divide a dish prepared at home into portions to eat throughout the rest of the week, or freeze for another time.
• Eat with other people. You may eat less when others are around.
• Try a piece of fruit before eating a meal — it may help you curb your appetite
• Know your snack “ triggers” and plan ahead. Fight the urge for high- calorie/ high- saturated- fat and trans fat foods by grabbing precut carrots, celery and other raw vegetables.
Here are some other suggestions from the American Heart Association to help you take care of your heart.
• Give yourself the gift of health for your birthday — make an appointment for a checkup and talk with your doctor about how you can reduce your risk for heart disease.
• Get off the couch. Walk briskly for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Don’t have 30 minutes? Break your walking into three 10minute segments.
• Quit smoking. It isn’t easy, but it is possible. Check with your doctor and others in your community for smoking cessation programs. It may take several attempts to quit — so don’t give up if you fail the first, fifth or tenth time. Keep trying. Others have quit; so can you!
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk for heart disease, visit americanheart. org.