Diversity Woman Magazine

FAL 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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DW Life > d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Fa l l 2 0 1 8 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 53 covering all five subgroups: dark green (spinach, lettuce), red and orange (peppers), legumes (beans, peas), starchy (corn), and others. Feast on them fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. Just be sure to choose low-salt products when buying frozen and canned vegetables. • Eat plenty of fruits, at least half of which are whole fruits. Fruit juices are acceptable but lack fiber, and drinking too many can add to your waistline. • Load up on whole grains and limit refined grains. • Choose fat-free and low-fat dairy prod- ucts. ese include milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy beverages. • Eat a variety of nutrient-dense proteins. Incorporate foods from both animal and plant sources, including seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, and soy products. • Include such healthy oils as canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. • Limit added sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium. Restricting sodium may be even more important if you're African American, as researchers found that a gene may make African Americans much more sensitive to the effects of salt, which in turn increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. • If you drink alcohol, do so in modera- tion. Move it. Choose activities you enjoy, whether walking with a friend, swimming, playing volleyball, or gardening. Start slowly, then add more and more time into your workout. Your goal should be at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity most days of the week. (Always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.) Why so risky? Certain risk factors raise your risk of heart attack. AGE. With each birthday you celebrate, your risk of heart disease increases. GENDER. Women may respond differently to certain risk factors. For younger women, for example, estrogen provides some protection against heart disease. However, diabetes raises the risk of heart disease more for women than it does for men. RACE OR ETHNICITY. Heart disease is more likely to strike African American women than Caucasian, while Hispanic Ameri- cans are less at risk. FAMILY HISTORY. If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mother or sister had one before age 65, you're at increased risk of getting heart disease. PREGNANCY HISTORY. A history of gestational diabetes or preeclampsia can raise the risk of having diabetes, high blood pres- sure, or heart disease later in life. Get tested. Speak to your doctor about what she or he recommends for you. Leslie Cho, MD, director of the Women's Cardiovascular Center at the Cleveland Clinic, recom- mends the following tests. • Cholesterol test every five years begin- ning at age 20. • Blood pressure test at least every two years. • Blood glucose levels at age 45, then at least every three years after that. • Waist measurement and BMI calcula- tion as needed. Sleep soundly. People who don't get enough zzzs are at higher risk for heart disease regardless of age, weight, smoking, and exercise habits. • Get into bed and wake up at the same time every day. • Stop exercising at least a few hours before turning in. • Don't toss and turn in bed. If you can't fall asleep, move to another room until you're sleepy. • Power down your electronics at least an hour before calling it a night. Know the symptoms. Research has found that the majority of female heart attack victims felt symptoms for months before the attack. Call 911 immediately if you experience any of the following. • Shortness of breath that doesn't sub- side. • Heavy, continuous chest discomfort some may describe as pressure. • Unexplained nausea, vomiting, or sweating. • A sharp pain in the neck, back, and/or jaw. Stress less. Easier said than done, sure. But Hayes points out, "Chronic stress—the kind where you never see the end—activates the fight or flight hormones." While that type of stress is useful if you have to jump out of the way of an oncom- ing bus, chronic elevation of those hormones makes you more likely to eat poorly, smoke, drink, and not exercise, all of which can raise your risk of heart disease. So take the time to kick back and do some relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or easy deep breathing. DW Leslie Pepper is a freelance writer specializing in health, diet, and wellness. ISTOCKPHOTO

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