February is Heart Awareness Month!

It’s the No. 1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer!

Many women are either unaware of the symptoms or may attribute their symptoms to other causes. For instance, that pain in your jaw, neck or back? Don’t assume it‘s just from the gym or stress. They could be symptoms of a heart attack.

The American Heart Association stresses the importance of knowing the symptoms and your family history.  Most women misinterpret symptoms of a heart attack and many people are unaware of close family members, or their relatives, that have a history of high cholesterol or heart issues. Eating habits and sleep patterns are just a few of the factors that raise a woman’s risk for heart disease. But the good news is 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes can be treated, prevented and even ended, if women learn about what puts them at risk and take action toward fighting it.

Make regular physical activity a part of your lifestyle. Increased activity leads to better and more efficient blood flow, which is less taxing on the heart organ.

Include artery cleansing foods in your diet. “Instead of using a whopping dollop of mayonnaise on your sandwich, try using thin slices of avocado,” suggests Megan Madden, a registered dietitian in New York, NY.  A 1996 study by researchers in Mexico found that people who ate avocado every day for one week experienced an average 17 percent drop in total blood cholesterol. What’s more, their levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol decreased and HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased.

Including whole grains in your diet helps to reduce the cholesterol in your meals.
Using healthy oils, in moderate portions, such as olive oil, helps prevent heart issues due to its high mono-and-polyunsaturated fats.

According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats, such as in almonds and walnuts can help reduce levels of bad cholesterol in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Including fatty fish, such as mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon, are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by decreasing inflammation and lowering triglyceride levels.

Utilize powerful anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric, or cinnamon in your diet. Curcumin, an ingredient found in turmeric, helps reduce fatty deposits in arteries which allow the heart muscle to run more efficiently. Cinnamon is rich with anti-oxidants which can help reduce fats in the bloodstream.

I include spirulina in my protein shakes. It is blue – green algae that can help relax artery walls and normalize blood pressure (American Heart Association).  It may also help your liver balance your blood fat levels—decreasing your LDL cholesterol by 10 percent and raising HDL cholesterol by 15 percent, according a recent study.

Go Red For Women (https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/know-your-risk/) encourages women to share their stories for only through dialogue can we slow or stop this silent killer.

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