Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. Claiming more lives than cancer, here’s help to reduce your risk.
Women tend to be knowledgeable about their greatest perceived threat, cancer, but at menopause it is heart disease that is the biggest killer.
Taking care of it through diet, exercise and bioidentical natural progesterone will all help your heart stay healthy, but at the age of 65 a woman’s rate of heart disease has caught up with that of men so it makes sense to be proactive and minimise your risk factors for a long and healthy life.
It is no news to you, but the oestrogen dominance that can occur at menopause through having excess oestrogen in relation to progesterone is definitely something you can easily start to tackle.
Other risk factors are smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, being overweight and having an unhealthy diet.
They are also risk factors for a number of other serious health conditions including diabetes so reducing them will improve your health profile immediately.
It is a common misconception that women suffer exactly the same type of heart disease as men, but yet again there is a real difference between the sexes. Women post-menopause can have narrowing of the arteries and a build-up of deposits just like men do, but it is much more common for the cause of the heart attack to be spasm of the coronary arteries.
How to help yourself:
You already know to eat a varied, healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables but there is now a new player in the mix.
Fibre is validated in research from Malmo in Sweden that found that women whose diets were high in fibre had almost 25 percent lower risk of heart disease than women whose diets were low in it.
The best fibre source is fruit and vegetables, rather than bread, so you are getting multiple health benefits as well as heart protection.
An anti-inflammatory diet is a real health boost if it includes lots of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants – including vitamins A and C – plus the minerals potassium and magnesium.
A good source for such a diet is the website of the American naturopathic doctor Andrew Weil at drweil.com
Good news if you love chocolate – and who doesn’t – because cocoa has been shown as having these cardiovascular benefits:
• Inhibits the oxidation of LDL
• Improves endothelial function
• Inhibits platelet activation
• Reduces LDL
• Increases HDL
• Increases insulin sensitivity
• Reduces inflammatory proteins
• Lowers blood pressure
Of course these are not just found in chocolate – you will get the same benefits in tea, fruit, vegetables and red wine so you can balance out your chocolate intake!
The chocolate health winner though is raw chocolate and you can add it to smoothies, drinks and shakes. If you want to chew on a bar then go for dark (plain) chocolate with a high cocoa content of at least 75%.
5 foods to keep your heart healthy and to minimize risks of heart disease and promote a strong cardiovascular system start adding these anti-inflammatory foods to your diet:
1 Nuts, especially almonds, walnuts, cashews and macadamias contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Eat a moderate portion of preferably raw or gently toasted nuts every day.
2 Whole soy protein. If you substitute whole soy protein, such as edamame or tofu, for animal protein each day, you can lower levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid linked to increased risk of heart disease.
3 Fresh garlic. This medicinal herb may help lower cholesterol levels. Use one or two raw or lightly cooked cloves a day.
4 Green tea. It provides EGCG, a polyphenol than may help to moderate inflammation and lower cholesterol. Substitute a cup of heart-healthy green tea for your morning coffee or afternoon soda.
5 Soluble fibre. It has a powerful cholesterol-lowering effect. Beans and legumes are good sources to add to your diet – aim for one or two servings per day.
Regular, enjoyable, exercise is also key and if it is weight bearing it will help with osteoporosis too.
Stress affects every single part of your body and if you are regularly stressed, and on a long-term basis, then this is a serious risk factor and needs to be addressed.
Find ways to reduce the pressure whether that is taking a walk, talking to a friend or taking up a hobby. Singing, dancing, meditation are all good ways to relax – just find what suits you and stick to it.
Helpful information: :
Tackling your diet, exercise regime and stress levels will make a huge difference to your risk of heart disease. There is also another thing you can do to protect your heart.
It has been known for many years that progesterone is effective in relaxing coronary arteries which have gone into spasm, and that excess oestrogen can in fact cause spasm.
Menopausal women’s heart attacks are due to heart spasm so this is a simple and effective preventive measure to avoid a potentially fatal heart attack.