With Valentine’s Day in February, it seems appropriate that this month is also National Heart Month. Are you doing everything you can to stay heart healthy?
Do you know the signs of a heart attack? Did you know the signs of a heart attack are different in women and men? And did you know studies show eating a plant based diet can help reduce your risk for, and even reverse, heart disease?
Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. Key risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking cigarettes. It’s estimated 1.3 million adults in the U.S. are living daily with congenital heart disease.
While women experience classic symptoms of heart attacks, like chest pain or radiating arm pain, more common symptoms for women include dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms or neck, stomach pain, jaw pain, upper back pressure, cold sweats and nausea.
If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
HERE’S SOME GOOD NEWS : Heart disease can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices like exercising, losing weight, reducing blood pressure, not smoking or quitting smoking, reducing your salt intake and eating more plant based foods. According to the CDC, “replacing foods high in sodium and bad fats with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. Diets high in trans-fat, saturated fat, and added sugar increase the risk factor for heart disease.”
Plant Based foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals can help lower blood pressure and LDL(bad) cholesterol which will help reduce your risk for diabetes, and help maintain a healthy weight — all linked to lowering the risk of heart disease
According to the Mayo Clinic, “people who ate more vegetables had a smaller risk of chronic heart disease; in fact, the more veggies they ate, the more their risk went down.” Jason Ewoldt, a wellness dietitian at Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program encourages us to eat more plant based food for heart health. “In a plant-based diet you can eat virtually unlimited amounts of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. Whole grains, legumes (beans), healthy oils, seeds and nuts round out a plant-based diet. “
Wondering how you can eat more plant based this year? Here are a few easy suggestions:
Start Slow – Especially if you are new to plant based foods you may find it daunting to go completely plant based overnight. Meatless Monday — the idea of eating meatless just one day a week – is a great way to start on a plant based diet.
Learn to Cook Plant Based — Try new cooking techniques to jazz up your meals . Roasting, broiling, steaming, simmering, and poaching foods can bring out the unique flavor of the foods you are working with.
Get Creative – Incorporate veggies into your meals any way you can. Carry cut up carrots, broccoli, cauliflower , snap peas with you and eat as a healthy snack at work, the gym, anywhere. Incorporate veggies into recipes for soup, smoothies, breads, even desserts!
Take a look at the recipes on my website for healthy meal options – all are vegan, dairy free and gluten free AND delicious! You won’t sacrifice taste when eating plant based and you’ll do your heart good!
What steps are you taking to keep your heart healthy? Share in the comments section.