February is the American Heart Association “Go Wear Red” campaign where the organization raises heart disease awareness for women. A lot of us ladies will be wearing out lovely red suits and red dress pins but do we really know how it is important to prevent and fight against this deadly disease. Unfortunately, African American women are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease and nearly half (49 percent) of all non-Hispanic African-American females have some form of heart disease, stroke or other CVD. African American women do not have given up and suffer with heart disease but we can fight by healthy eating, exercising, reducing stress and quitting smoking. This does seem a lot to do what can you start as the first steps for lowering your risk of heart disease.
- Healthy eating should start off with:
- Lower foods that have saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in some meats, dairy products, baked goods and deep-fried and processed foods. Trans fats are found in some fried and unprocessed foods. Both types of fat raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level.
- Increase foods in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in omega-3s include fish such as salmon and olive oil.
- Increase foods in fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in these foods helps lower LDL cholesterol as well as provides nutrients that may help protect against heart disease.
- Lower foods that are high in salt and sugar. A low-salt diet can help manage blood pressure, while a low-sugar diet can help prevent weight gain and control diabetes and pre-diabetes. Use herbs and spices to lower salt intake and reduce sugar intake.
- Exercising should start off with:
- Walking either for 30 minutes a day, five times a week or you can divide your time into two or three segments of 10 -15 minutes for per day.
- Do a physical and nutrition journal to record and to see what changes you can make the following day.
- Reducing stress should start off with:
- Accept the things you cannot change. Try not to worry. Just move on and have faith that everything will work out.
- Get enough sleep. It is important to have 6-8 hours sleep ever night which has help reduce stress and depression.
- Talk with family and friends. Having a daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or write your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys. You will be surprise how much you have in common.
- Remember to laugh. Laughter makes you feel good so don’t be afraid to laugh. Life is too short and laughter makes you live longer!
- To start quit smoking you can start off with:
- “Cold turkey”: Just stop smoking all at once on your Quit Day. This method doesn’t prolong the quitting process or
- Reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day until you stop smoking completely. Then on your Quit Day, stop smoking completely or
- Smoke only part of each cigarette. It helps to count how many puffs you take from each cigarette and reduce the number every two or three days. Two days before your Quit Day, you should smoke no more than 1/4 of each cigarette.
So participate in the “Go Red” campaign and start on your first steps to reduce heart disease.
For further nutritional information also check out Living Healthy website: www.livinghealthy1.org .
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