Where heart health is concerned, what you eat is just as important as how much physical activity you get, says Marla Ahlgrimm. The retired pharmacist and women’s health expert explains that heart disease and stroke are respectively the number one and number three cause of death for women in the United States.
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, women can lower the risk of stroke and heart disease by choosing a variety of healthy, non-processed foods. At mealtime, fruits and vegetables should comprise the bulk of the plate followed by lean meats, whole-grain, and low-fat dairy products. A heart-healthy meal might include three- to four ounces of skinless chicken, a serving of wild rice, a salad mixed with spinach and colorful vegetables, and a glass of milk.
Marla Ahlgrimm asserts that there are certain foods that should be consciously limited, especially for women who are already at-risk of heart disease. Women should pay attention to their intake of:
- Saturated fats. Women should consume no more than 10% of their daily diet plan in calories derived from saturated fat. These are fats found in fried chicken, cookies, cheeseburgers, and pizza, among other unhealthy dietary options.
- Trans fats. Marla Ahlgrimm notes that trans fats are those found primarily in commercially-prepared foods such as margarine, individually packaged cakes and cookies, and snacks. The FDA has recently taken action to limit the amount of trans fats in the nation’s food supply as they are typically unnecessary and pose a widespread health risk.
- Cholesterol. Women should consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol every day. Foods high in cholesterol include those made with animal fats and fatty cuts of meat such as bacon. Marla Ahlgrimm reports that eggs are one of the top sources of dietary cholesterol but points out that most adults can safely consume an average of one egg per day without increasing the risk of heart disease.
Sodium and added sugar. Foods such as ice cream, sodas, and sports drinks that contain added sugar and foods prepared with high amounts of salt should be strictly limited. Most commercially-prepared foods have both added salt and sugars.