Whether celebrating love (romantic or platonic), or simply focusing on some much needed love of self and self-care, there is no denying that February is all about the heart. Though you may spend much of this month giving and sharing of your heart, how much are you doing for your heart itself?
Did you know that according to the Heart and Stroke Association, heart disease is still the number one killer of women in the United States and is seen to be the cause of 1 out of every 3 deaths of American women? An estimated 43 million women in the US are currently affected by heart disease, which is about 27% of American women. That seems like quite a lot!
So why are we not talking about it more?
This should not surprise us, when an even higher percentage of women in the United States menstruate but menstruation still seems to sometimes be difficult to talk about, and guess what? It’s not only our silence on the two topics that are linked!
Menstruation and Heart Health
Do you know that there may also be a connection between menstruation and heart health? Researchers have been looking into links between menstruation and heart health for some time. There has been much talk about the link between menopause and overall cardiac health as the risk of heart disease is certainly higher for women after menopause. A recent decade long study at University of Oxford even suggested a link between when a woman first starts menstruating and heart disease in later life.
In addition to this, Dr. Susan Rako MD in her book, No More Periods?, attributes menstruation to other heart health benefits, including: 1) the reduction in blood pressure during half the normal menstrual cycle and 2) the reduction of stored iron which can also help reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Be Still My Healthy Heart!
So how can you live heart healthy? Well most importantly, make sure that you are doing your regular health checkups and talking with your primary healthcare provider. Also it is never too late to make those small lifestyle changes that can improve not only your cardiac health but your overall health as well. Of course, we are talking about making healthier diet choices and finding more ways to incorporate exercise and activity in your life.
Heart Healthy Eating
We’ve all heard about the heart healthy benefits of EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids like Omega 3 and Omega-6) which can be found in delicious foods like fish, flaxseed, hemp seeds, walnuts, chia, etc. Incorporating some of these into your diet can be easy as well as yummy. Who doesn’t like a good fish fillet for dinner? And if you are vegetarian, adding some flaxseed oil or hemp seed to a smoothie or salad can be a simple fix too.
Try This Heart Healthy Recipe
OMC (Oh My Cod!)
- 1 lbs filet of cod
- 2 medium tomatoes – diced
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper cut into strips
- 1 yellow onion – diced
- 2 cloves of garlic – minced
- 2 sprigs of fresh parsley – chopped fine
- 2-3 cilantro leaves – chopped fine
- 1 tbsp of capers – sliced to release juices
- I tsp of lime juice
- virgin coconut oil
- coarse salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 C.
- Sauté onion in coconut oil until the onion starts to yellow. Then add all vegetables and sauté for about 5 to 10 minutes on medium heat adding water as needed. Add herbs and continue cooking for on medium heat until tastes are blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Apply a 1/3 of the sauce to the bottom of a medium-sized glass baking dish, and then place the cod filets on the sauce, spooning the remainder of the sauce over top and squeeze the lime juice over the filet.
- Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the fish has a flaky texture and is opaque white throughout.
Activity and Exercise
The other piece to the puzzle is injecting a bit more activity and movement into your life. More often than not, it becomes all too easy to be more sedentary. If you work at an office job you may be sitting at your desk all day, and even in our off time the entertainment offered by television, the internet, and our smart phones, make it all too simply to sit on the couch instead of getting up and moving around.
Though you may not be able to get out to a gym, some simple things like opting to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator can make a world of difference. Another great idea, during the work day is to set an alarm on your phone to get up every couple of hours and do 5-10 squats. Roping your colleagues or cubical buddies into joining you can make this a fun way to break up the work day while getting you up and moving.
A fun idea for getting yourself moving while not letting it get monotonous is to make yourself an activity challenge jar. Write yourself some activity challenges on slips of paper and keep them in a jar. You know yourself so make sure your challenges are not too easy but also within your ability while still being slightly challenging. Then 2-4 times a day pull out an activity idea from the jar to do on the spot.
Here are some ideas to get you started—no equipment necessary!
- Do __# of squats holding each squat for a count of 15.
- Do __# sit-ups.
- Hold a plank for __# seconds.
- Do __# burpees.
* Remember the number of repetitions or for holding a position will be unique to everybody and make sure to keep it reasonable, discussing all increased activity with your doctor.
Finding fun ways to get more active and eat better will benefit your health in many ways including the ways of the heart.
You’re in our hearts!
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is based on research and information available at the time of writing. As new research is made available, we will work to update and adjust our content as appropriate. If you have general questions, or concerns related to your own individual circumstances, please contact our Consumer Support Team, or speak to a healthcare practitioner for more specific questions about your individual circumstances.