Heart healthy advice used to be so simple: Make smart food choices and exercise. “But,” says Time Magazine, “these easy guidelines have given way to a bewildering—and at times contradictory—smorgasbord of…do’s and don’ts.”
What’s a health-conscious woman to do? First, don’t despair. Today more than ever you can make choices to lower your risk of heart disease—and even turn it around if you’ve already been diagnosed. A sampling:
• Watch your weight. Why should you (and your heart) care about a little or a lot of extra weight? One reason: For every pound, your body “grows” seven miles of vessels to supply blood to the fat tissue. This translates into more work for the heart, which must push blood through these vessels.
• Control cholesterol. There’s no denying the strong relationship between blood cholesterol levels and the status of your heart-health. To avoid cholesterol-containing foods, consume lots of cholesterol-free vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans and peas. (Note. Nuts and seeds are also cholesterol-free, but because they are high in fat, consume them in moderation.)
• Opt for Ornish. In his revolutionary lifestyle program, Dean Ornish, MD, and colleagues showed heart patients could “reverse” the blockage in their arteries by following a no-fat-added vegetarian diet, exercising, managing stress, and social support.
What else? Because your heart is a muscle that can be strengthened through activity, it still holds true that regular exercise is a boon to a healthy heart. Other motivators: Exercise can raise your “good” HDL cholesterol level, lower blood pressure, and contribute to weight loss.
Larry Scherwitz, PhD and Deborah Kesten, MPH, are international lifestyle and health researchers and Certified Wellness and Cardiac coaches. They also are the award-winning authors of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, The Healing Secrets of Food, and The Enlightened Diet. Visit them at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take their FREE What’s Your Eating Style? quiz, and to learn more about their Whole Person Nutrition Program for weight loss and wellness, coaching, and books.