Linda F. Benedict, Reames, Elizabeth S.
News Release Distributed 01/27/10
During February, the American Heart Association wants people to Go Red for Women and call attention to the need for women to take charge of their heart health. On Feb. 5, women across America are to wear something red as part of the National Wear Red Day, according to Beth Reames, LSU AgCenter nutritionist.
“Cardiovascular diseases claim more women's lives than the next seven causes of death combined – about 500,000 lives a year,” Reames said.
To help prevent heart disease, it’s important to eat right and exercise.
“If you're physically inactive you're much more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity improves your cardiovascular fitness and helps reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke,” Reames said.
Exercise can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. It also can help lower blood pressure. For most healthy people, the American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week to condition your heart and lungs.
You don't have to be an athlete to lower your risk. Moderate activities such as walking, gardening, housework or dancing for at least 30 minutes on most days can help your heart. The time may be broken into shorter periods. If you've been inactive, you can start with 10 minutes of physical activity – then work up to more.
“If you have too much body fat, especially if a lot of it is in your waist area, you're at higher risk for health problems,” Reames said.
Risks include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Women with excess body fat are at higher risk of heart disease, even if they don't have other risk factors.
Try to reach a healthy weight, and stay there. To lose weight, most women should eat 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, but not less than 1,200. Losing one to two pounds or less per week is considered a healthy weight loss.
“One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories,” Reames said.
Many overweight and obese women have difficulty losing weight and keeping it off. But Reames said even modest weight loss, such as 10 percent of body weight, can help lower your heart disease risk.
Choose nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat dairy products most often.
“And watch your portion size,” Reames said.
For more information on eating healthy, go to www.lsuagcenter.com and search for Smart Portions.
For additional information about National Wear Red Day, go to www.goredforwomen.org.Editor: Linda Foster Benedict