Food is what drives every system in the body, says women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm. What we put into our bodies plays a significant role in how we look and feel from the inside out. Here, Ahlgrimm talks about heart-healthy foods and ways you can change your diet today for a healthier heart tomorrow.
Q: What are some foods that help prevent heart disease and stroke?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A diet rich in a variety of different foods is a great first step in reducing your risk of heart-related conditions. Fruits and vegetables should comprise at least half of every meal. Whole grains, such as wild rice, sorghum, whole-wheat, and oatmeal, are an essential part of a healthy diet. Stick with low-fat dairy products, lean meat, and other forms of protein such as beans and eggs.
Q: Are there certain foods I should avoid?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Forgoing certain foods, including those high in sodium, cholesterol, trans fats, saturated fats, and excessive sugars, is vital to your overall health.
Q: I’m a 40-year-old moderately active woman within my average weight range. How many calories should I consume each day?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Women between 30 and 50 years of age should strive for 2000 calories each day to maintain current weight. It is important to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
Q: Salt seems to be added to every food at the supermarket. What are some ways I can cut my sodium intake?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A diet high in sodium is one of the leading risk factors for hypertension, which leads to heart disease and stroke. Women should consume no more than 2300 mg of salt each day. To achieve this goal, avoid processed foods and read labels. Sodium content varies from brand to brand, even on similar items. Cook most of your meals at home and season your food with alternate herbs and spices instead of salt.