Tag Archives: Heart disease

Silent Signs of Heart Disease in Women

Women Heart Health Tips

Most people don’t realize that heart disease and stroke are the #1 killer of women. Many have the misconception that heart disease is a man’s disease, but the reality is that each year one in every three women will die of heart disease and stroke.

In honor of National Heart Month and GO RED for Women month, I am joining the movement to help women know the facts and that they can prevent heart disease. In fact, 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.1

Get to Know the Facts

  • One of 3 women dies from heart disease, equal to the prevalence in men.
  • More women than men die from heart attacks and strokes.
  • Women typically develop cardiovascular symptoms about a decade later than men, and the disease is often riskier and more complicated to treat. Women are also more likely to be disabled after a heart attack or stroke.
  • At menopause, a woman’s heart diseaserisk starts to increase significantly, so start prevention before menopause.
  • 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease.
  • Women’s symptoms are often overlooked at emergency rooms, or doctors’ offices. That is why it is CRUCIAL for you to be in the know and to be pro-active if symptoms are present.
  • Women don’t have “typical” symptoms and symptoms do not always include chest pain. Commonly, the only symptom is extreme fatigue, or fatigue upon exertion or “just not feeling right.” You can see why this symptom is misdiagnosed. Fatigue can result from lack of sleep, lifestyle, allergies, colds, and many other conditions, but at times it is a sign of heart disease.

Recognize the Symptoms

Heart Attack

  • unexplained prolonged fatigue
  • chest discomfort , pressure or chest pain (not as severe as men’s)
  • pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw or stomach pain
  • shortness of breath, with or without exertion
  • light-headedness or headache
  • confusion
  • nausea or indigestion
  • sweating

Stroke

F.A.S.T. is an acronym used for the most common signs and symptoms of stroke. These signs tend to appear suddenly and every second matters so it’s crucial to act fast.

  • Face. Ask the person to smile. Does the face look uneven? Does one side droop?
  • Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down or is it unable to move?
  • Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound strange? Strange speech could be slurred, the wrong words may come out, or the person is unable to speak.
  • Time to call 9-1-1.

Understand the Risk Factors

Be alert to your risk status for heart disease. Each risk factor increases your risk. These include:

  • Age 55 or older – no matter how healthy you are
  • Smoking, which increases heart risk 7 times more in women than in men
  • Diabetes, which increases risk by 3-fold
  • Being overweight or having abdominal fat (a waist size over 35 inches)
  • African-American women over age 20 – almost 50% have heart disease
  • Hispanic women – who typically get heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women
  • High blood pressure – 1 in 3 women over age 65 have or will have HBP
  • Cholesterol over 200 – which means 70% of women
  • High triglycerides (blood fats) over 125
  • Sedentary living, including more than 10 hrs of TV a week
  • Menopause – at any age
  • Depression/stress (ups risk 2.5 times)
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Family history or personal history of a heart condition

Scary, isn’t it? How many risk factors do you have? Which can you reverse or control?

Here’s the good news: 80 percent of all heart disease is preventable and even reversible by making lifestyle changes in your eating and activity habits.  

We can all make changes. Be proactive! Do not wait for your doctor to tell you to eat fresh food or shed a few pounds. Rid your pantry of packaged foods with extra salt, sugar and saturated and trans fats. Vow to eat a heart-healthy diet that is plant-focused with lean proteins and liquid vegetable oils. Add salads, beans, nuts, fruit and wholegrains to your daily diet along with lean cuts of beef and pork and nonfat dairy foods. You can do this. Take a 30 minute brisk walk daily in your neighborhood, mall or gym. You can break it up into three 10-minute walks. It all starts with one step.

Making these changes, you will soon reap the benefits – improved, less inflamed arteries, better blood flow, lower blood fats and a lessened risk for heart attacks and stroke. The sooner you start, the better. The longer the damage continues, the tougher for you to turn around. Please take preventative, aggressive action. Every bite and every step count.

Start eating better and move more today. You are worth it!

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating and successful solutions, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips and eating plans makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/GeorgiaKostasNutrition and visit: http://www.georgiakostas.com.

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on the websites or any association with their operators.                                                        

1Source: The American Heart Association

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Heart Smart Foods for February Heart Month

Healthy heart, healthy body. 

How can you prevent artery and heart disease that a majority of Americans develop over a lifetime? Take action now. Focus on heart smart foods that keep your artery walls strong, elastic, and free of plaque (from cholesterol deposits and oxidation), inflammation and clots. Heart-Smart foods fight for your life every day, by protecting your arteries from:

Cholesterol build-up:  Eat plant foods (fruit, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, oils), foods with soluble fiber such as oats, beans and psyllium seeds; fish, poultry without skin, lean beef and pork and lamb cuts; skim milk, low-fat cheese, and spreads and special foods with stanols or sterols (i.e Smart Balance Heart Right spreads and milk). Avoid saturated, hydrogenated and tran fats in lard and fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, hot dogs, sausage; burgers, hardened margarine sticks, commercially prepared desserts, snack foods, icing, fried foods.

Cholesterol oxidation:  Eat anti-oxidant-rich fruit and vegetables of all types, particularly deep red/blue/purple foods such as red grapes, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grape juice, red wine, dark chocolate, tea, eggplant, raisins, tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Artery stiffness:  Eat olive oil, canola oil, seafood (omega 3’s), nuts, and fresh produce that contain anti-oxidants, phyto-nutrients and potassium.  Skip the salt shaker, packaged and canned foods, and salty foods that stiffen arteries.

Artery inflammation:  Select anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant-rich foods such as fresh produce, whole grains, beans, seafood, omega 3-rich foods. Eat regular meals with reasonable portions        (large meals or large portions inflame artery walls by elevating blood sugar, fats and salt). Avoid excessive sugar, salt, saturated, trans and hydrogenated fats; excess body fat, particularly middle fat; and sitting long hours. Get up and move. Treat and control elevated blood pressure and diabetes. The bottom line: reasonable portions, reasonably sized meals and regular exercise prevent inflammation.

Clot formation:  Eat nature’s natural blood thinners to prevent clots, such as seafood, olive and canola oils, red foods with polyphenols (red grapes, red onions, tea, wine, red apples, garlic, grape juice) and red/orange foods such as tomatoes, red bell pepper, berries, cherries, carrots, oranges, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe- all are good for your arteries and blood flow. Omega 3s are found in oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, bass, trout; walnuts;  canola and olive oil, as well as omega 3- fortified spreads, milk, orange juice, low-fat cheese.

In essence, enjoy 2-3 fruit and 2-3 cups of fresh vegetables daily…especially colorful ones, and a variety, to reap the greatest heart-health benefits. Eat beans 4 times a week; nuts 4 times a week -one shot glass of nuts is a serving; seafood at least twice a week; 3 whole grains daily; healthy oils; non-fat or low-fat dairy and lean protein foods.

Limit alcohol, which raises blood pressure and weight, and can interfere with medications. The American Heart Association guideline: “Limit alcohol to no more than one can of beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80 proof alcohol per day,” for women; two for men. Exceed these amounts, and the benefits of alcohol are countered by increased heart risk.

Remember to get up and move for at least 30 minutes daily. Schedule a little exercise each day for fun, relaxation, stress release, and recreation. You heart and arteries will sing. Plaque and inflammation and clots lessen, artery elasticity and strength increase, LDL (bad) cholesterol lowers, healthy HDL cholesterol rises, blood sugar, fats, and pressure normalize. A little goes a long way to improving your overall health, heart health and sense of well-being.

Seemingly little decisions daily as to what to eat and how much, when to exercise and how much, make a HUGE impact on your heart, and your life.

Discover more heart healthy tips by visiting my website, www.georgiakostas.com. Order my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009), for recipes, teaching tips, menu planning and more. You can also follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or twitter @georgiakostas.

Protein Series, Part 2 of 3: Lean Protein is Good for Heart Health

Introduction:  Recent research indicates that a moderate serving of high-quality protein (3-4 oz) with each meal can make a significant difference in healthy aging, body strength, weight management, and disease prevention. This is especially significant since approximately 20 percent of older adults do not meet the USDA’s recommended dietary allowance of protein. Read my three-part series on Protein to learn how you can achieve optimal health as you get older.

Lean Protein is Good for Heart Health

Eating lean beef daily, as part of a heart-healthy diet, can help lower LDL-cholesterol ( bad cholesterol), lower triglycerides ( blood fats), and raise HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) more than excluding beef, according to new research published in the January 2012 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  In this study, 5 oz of lean beef were consumed daily, as part of an overall healthy, plant-based, nutrient-rich diet (DASH), which included a variety of foods from all food groups.

Lean Beef by the Numbers

Americans can feel confident in their decision to eat lean beef daily, in moderate amounts,  as part of a low saturated fat diet which meets the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It’s a complete package! A 3 oz. serving of lean beef contributes less than 10 percent of calories to a 1,500-2,000-calorie intake daily and it supplies more than 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for 10 essential nutrients. On average, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef (about the size of a deck of cards) contains about 150 calories and is an excellent source of six nutrients (protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin and selenium) and a good source of four nutrients (phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin).

Lean Beef by the Cut  –

Did you know 17 of the top 25 most popular fresh meat cuts sold in retail are lean? Some of my favorite choices in cuts are  Tenderloin, Top Sirloin, Flank, T-Bone steak and 95% lean Ground Beef. It’s simple to pair these delicious cuts with nutrient-rich vegetables, grains and dairy foods for an overall healthy diet.

Other Heart-Protective Foods

How can you protect your heart? Eat the right type and amount of wholesome foods! Choose colorful fruit, vegetables, and beans; wholegrains; lean protein foods ( fish, poultry, lean beef, low-fat cheese); non-fat or low-fat dairy; and the right types and amount of fat and oils  to reduce artery inflammation and lessen the development of hardening of the arteries, which underlies most heart attacks.

Lifestyle Factors that Reduce Heart Disease

  • A healthy weight
  • Aerobic exercise, 30+ minutes, 3-5 times weekly
  • Healthy eating
  • Healthy blood pressure (<120/80)
  • Not smoking
  • Treating depression
  • Managing stress
  • More vitamin D3
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Ample sleep

In summary, lean beef protein can be beneficial to your heart as long as it does not exceed saturated fat limits (3-4 oz lean beef contains 4-6 gm sat fat out of 15-22 gm sat fat limit daily). Realize the value in varying protein sources – it’s good for your taste buds, adds nutrient variety, and helps your heart. It takes your total lifestyle to keep your heart running right…combine eating right and regular physical activity for optimal health.

Need more ideas?  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009), or email me at Georgia@GeorgiaKostas.com to schedule a nutrition consult in person, over the phone or online.  You can follow me on Twitter/GeorgiaKostas, Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or visit my website http://georgiakostas.com.

National Cholesterol Education Month is Now!

Do you have a happy heart? This is a perfect time to get your cholesterol checked; then be pro-active to achieve and maintain a low (healthy) cholesterol level (below 200) and low LDL cholesterol (below 130).  LDL is the cholesterol that sticks to arteries, hardens, and creates plaque.  It eventually builds up and narrows and stiffens arteries, blocking blood flow and causing clots.  The result?  Heart attacks and strokes.  You can lower LDL and total cholesterol the same way.  My top ten tips:

  1. Eat more fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.  Their natural anti-oxidants block LDL from oxidizing (hardening) in arteries, causing plaque.  They also prevent LDL-inflamed arteries, which spin off clots. Red foods in particular are natural clot-busters.  Eat red apples, berries, tea, red grapes, and red onions, tomatoes …particularly rich in the artery-protective polyphenols and flavanoids.
  2. Eat seafood 2-4 times a week…particularly omega-3 rich salmon, tuna, bass, sardine, swordfish, and cod.  And take a fish oil supplement with 1000 mg EPA/DHA omega-3’s from marine sources only.  Fish oils protect arteries from inflammation and clots, and keep the heart beat in rhythm.
  3. Eat lean protein – fish, poultry, lean beef and ham, nonfat dairy; 3-7 eggs a week.  Keep fish/poultry/lean meat at 6 -8 oz daily to not exceed safe amounts of hidden cholesterol and saturated fat.
  4. Keep fiber intake high as possible, particularly insoluble fiber sources – as in oatmeal, Kasha, beans, oat cereals (like Cheerios and oat squares), and psyllium.  You may also add one tsp of sugar-free Metamucil (psyllium) to a glass of water at 2-3 meals daily to lower cholesterol.  Three whole grain foods daily will also lower cholesterol.  Example: oatmeal, 100% whole grained bread, popcorn or corn.
  5. Use healthy oils – olive and canola, nuts, nut butters, avocado, olives – to lower LDL.
  6. Add special sterol-fortified foods (like Smart Balance Heart Right spread or milk). Two servings daily will lower cholesterol in 6-8 wks.  Many more are on at your grocery store. Ask a dietitian.
  7. Lose 5-10 lbs – cholesterol will drop 15-25 points.
  8. Do not smoke.
  9. Limit alcohol – 1 drink a day for women; 2 for men.
  10. Keep moving!  Aerobic activity 150 min a week and weight training (30 min twice a week) will do the trick!  You will lower cholesterol and build healthy HDL cholesterol, which transports LDL out of your arteries.  You will decrease your blood pressure, blood sugar and unwanted pounds.

Lowering cholesterol with food, exercise, weight, and lifestyle is the key.  Check out my book The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution:  Step up to the Plate (2009) for more ideas of menus, snacks, cereals, cheeses, beef cuts, vegetable ideas to make all this easier for you . Or call me for a phone consult at 214.587.4241.  I want to help you be healthy and have a happy heart!

Follow me on Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition or Twitter @georgiakostas.

Image: “Mixed Vegetables Healthy Lifestyle” by Grant Cochrane

Spring-Clean Your Diet!

Spring is a perfect time to clean out your pantry and refrigerator and freshen up your eating!

7 ways to get you started:

1. Go to the farmer’s market and buy 10 different colorful fresh fruit and vegetables! Vegetables and fruit are nutrient-rich, low in calories, anti-inflammatory, flavorful and refreshing.

2. Serve fresh vegetables with hummus, bean dip, light Ranch or a Greek yogurt-based dip.

3. Eat 3 fresh sliced fruit daily – melons, berries, pineapple, oranges, apples, and bananas, grapes – as part of meals, snacks, appetizers and dessert.

4. Enjoy lean protein such as seafood, poultry without skin, lean beef or pork cuts. Just add a little seasoning and olive oil for flavor.

5. Choose 100% whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, steel-cut oats, corn, homemade popcorn, barley, whole-wheat crackers. These supply fiber and crucial nutrients.

6. Try Greek yogurt, which has twice the protein and more calcium than other yogurts.

7. Get creative with nuts! Try pistachio snacks, almonds on salads, or walnuts in cereal. The type of fat and nutrients in 3 Tbsp of nuts each day improves artery health, lipids, diabetes and reduces the risk of heart disease.

Clean up your diet by adding just one more vegetable, one more fruit, and one more whole grain daily. Eating clean will help put spring in your step!

For more resources and advice, visit http://www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Celebrating National Nutrition Month (Part 2 of 3)

Color Your Plate like an Artist’s Palette

It’s March and color is on your mind! You may be relishing in tabloid analysis of what color of dresses celebrities wore on the red carpet for the Oscars last week. You may be starting to think about what colors of flowers or produce you want to plant in your garden this spring. Or, if you are like me, you’re celebrating National Nutrition Month by discovering the different array of foods you can use to color your plate.

Here are a few examples of foods you can use to color your plate like an artist’s palette this month and all year long:

Color: Green
Foods: Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprout
Health benefits: Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease, macular eye degeneration, cataracts, inflammation, colon cancer, heart disease, bone loss

Color: Red
Foods: Berry, tomato, tomato sauce, apple, watermelon, radish, pomegranate
Health Benefit: Helps prevent cell damage, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure

Color: Orange
Foods: Sweet potato, carrot, apricot, cantaloupe, orange
Health Benefits: Helps prevent heart disease, stroke, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis

Color: Yellow
Foods: Butternut squash, crookneck squash, corn, pineapple, lemon
Health Benefits: Helps prevent heart disease, stroke, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis

Color: White
Foods: Garlic, onion, pear, black-eyed pea, cauliflower, chick pea, mushroom
Health Benefit: Helps prevent high blood pressure

Color: Purple
Foods: Grape, fig, blueberry, black currant, red cabbage, eggplant, black bean, plum
Health Benefits: Helps prevent memory loss, cancer, heart disease

Help me add to my list. What foods do you enjoy that add color to your plate? Please enter your examples in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out Part 3 of my National Nutrition Month blog series: Count Your Portions before they Count You

For more healthy plate ideas, or to order a copy of my book, visit www.georgiakostas.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.

Go Red for Heart Month! Show your Heart some TLC

Go red! You may recognize this American Heart Association’s Heart Month slogan, reminding us that heart disease is the top health threat to women, as well as men.

Go red! This is a great way to eat to prevent heart disease. Red foods contain plant nutrients called bioflavonoids and anthocyanins – both of which are heart-protecting natural blood thinners, anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatory agents that protect arteries, blood vessels and our hearts. It is easy to eat red/orange at almost every meal – a fresh orange or berries at breakfast, with cereal or a shake, a red apple or tomato soup with a sandwich at noon, or tomatoes in a sandwich; at supper, a salad with tomato, red onion, red bell pepper, carrots, radishes, California (red/green) lettuce – that’s six red foods right there. Sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, red grapes, all berries, red lettuces, red cabbage, eggplant are other ways Nature provides us with cardiovascular health.

Other simple, effective ways to enjoy heart health:

  • Eat heart-healthy – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, poultry, lean meat cuts, healthy oils (olive and canola oil, tub spreads, Smart Balance Heart Right spread with stanols and omega 3’s, pistachios, nuts, nonfat milk/yogurt; limit sugar and fatty foods, sodas, processed foods.
  • Exercise regularly – do good-for-the- heart aerobic activity 150 minutes a week; resistance training 2-3 times weekly ; and stretching for balance, flexibility, agility
  • Live a healthy lifestyle – get enough rest, relaxation; keep a healthy weight; don’t smoke; control alcohol ( at most: less than 1 drink daily for women; two for men)
  • Keep tabs of your blood cholesterol levels, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, omega 3 levels, c-reactive protein, homocysteine, vitamin D levels, blood pressure, blood sugar – all biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. Normalize your levels with lifestyle – eating, exercise, weight.
  • Pay attention to your waistline more than your total weight. Middle fat raises heart risk.

How does your diet rate? Would you like to lessen your need for cholesterol-lowering medications? You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and protect your arteries and heart with simple food strategies and weight management. Check out my website www.georgiakostas.com to learn more. Here’s to your happy heart!

Follow me on Twitter @georgiakostas or like my Facebook Fan Page, Georgia Kostas Nutrition.