A major part of preventive care is accepting the risk factors you cannot control and being proactive about the risk factors you can control.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
- Obesity or being overweight
- Family history
- Previous stroke or heart attack
While men are at higher risk for heart disease than women overall, a woman’s risk increases with age, especially after menopause. A woman’s risk is also increased if she has a history of heart disease in her family.
To maintain your health levels at an ideal range, regular exercise goes a long way, even if it’s walking 30 minutes a day. Also avoid smoking. To control high blood pressure specifically, maintain a low-sodium diet and avoid saturated fats and alcohol.
To control cholesterol, avoid too much sodium, saturated and trans fat, and high-carbohydrate food, such as pastries, white bread, white pasta, and white rice.
To keep blood sugar levels under control, the American Heart Association recommends that adult women consume no more than six teaspoons, or 100 calories, of sugar a day. Some foods, such as fruit and milk, have naturally occurring sugars. What you need to look out for are “added” sugars in food, particularly in sweetened and packaged food, such as soft drinks, baked goods, candy, dairy desserts, and some cereals. Each gram of sugar has 4 calories, so 25 grams of sugar per day should be your limit. To put that into perspective, a Starbucks chai latte contains 42 grams of sugar.
“Sugar” has many names on a food-packaging ingredients list. You want to look out for:
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Invert sugar
- Malt sugar
- Raw sugar
- Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose,maltose, sucrose)
Have an insatiable sweet tooth? Here’s a tip: Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in recipes (use equal amounts).
Source: Go Red for Women
One of the reasons for these racial disparities is the fact that racial and ethnic minority groups more frequently lack health insurance and access to quality health care, reports the American Heart Association.