3 Ways Diet Can Help or Harm Women’s Heart Health

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seton-heart-1The foods we consume impact our well-being in a number of ways. Nutritious foods can offer us vitality, boost the immune system and benefit the body’s many functions. For women who want to protect their heart health, diet plays an important role. What we eat and how we eat can either help or hinder cardiovascular health.

1. Say No to Yo-Yo Dieting

Most women have dieted at some point in their lives. Although it’s important to manage your weight for an overall healthy lifestyle, yo-yo dieting can adversely affect women’s heart health.

A study conducted at Memorial Hospital in Rhode Island found that post-menopausal women of normal weight with a history of weight cycling, gaining or dropping 10 pounds or more, were at increased risk for heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Fad diets that encourage people to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time can threaten heart health. For women who are overweight, the safest way to attain a healthy weight is to adopt and maintain a healthy diet and increase activity levels to burn more calories, dropping no more than a pound a week.

Women should discuss with their doctors how they can protect their hearts.

2. High-Protein Diets Prove Unhealthy

High-protein diets have been touted as a surefire way to curb appetite and help weight loss, but post-menopausal women may do damage to their hearts with an overemphasis on animal-based protein. Research indicates a heightened risk of heart failure in women whose diets are high in animal protein.

3. Pass the Chocolate

Time for some good news: chocolate is flavanol rich. Flavanols are naturally-occurring compounds that can help improve cardiovascular health. Women can maximize the nutritional benefits of chocolate by choosing dark chocolate and cocoa that has not gone through Dutch processing.