Discover Dr. O’s thoughts on how to eat and drink to avoid heart disease.
We’ve all heard that a glass of red wine can benefit heart health, but is it really true? And we’ve been told to adopt a “heart-healthy diet,” but what exactly does that mean? And how seriously East heart disease in the first place?
We needed answers, so Katie reached out to beloved Dr. O – aka J. Nwando Olayiwola, MD, MPH, FAAFP, the Director of Health Equity for Humana Inc. Here she explains how heart disease can be dangerous (and downright deadly). be, what to eat and drink to avoid it, and why the severity of this condition can be so difficult to grasp.
Katie Couric: So, Dr. O, how serious is the problem of heart disease in women?
Dr O: Heart disease is a serious problem for women. Cardiovascular diseases in general, including heart attacks, strokes and other forms of vascular disease, kill more women than all forms of cancer combined.
Why then do so many women not realize how serious heart disease is?
So many people don’t realize how serious fatal cardiovascular disease is. And that’s understandable, because people are very worried about things like cancer. They see how people struggle as they go through cancer, and it scares them a lot more and makes them a lot more fearful. In many cases, heart disease is pretty quiet: you don’t necessarily see someone going through a process where their blood pressure is high, their diabetes is getting worse, or their cholesterol is building up.
So I think heart disease ends up being ignored because the cancer is more palpable and visible. That’s why it’s such a silent killer and many people don’t recognize it as a risk. Cardiovascular diseases are absolutely the first cause of death, more than car accidents and cancers.
Let’s talk about prevention, and let’s start with food: East heart healthy food?
A heart-healthy diet includes a number of things, but largely Costs things. So if you can think about how to fit more fresh foods into your daily meals – like fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, less processed foods – you’re in a good position. But that’s a challenge for a lot of people because we live in a society where we’re in a rush and move at lightning speed all the time. It’s easy to grab things that are processed, but it’s the foods that really hurt us. Luckily, there are some great tools people can use to visualize a healthy meal and what combination of things they should have on their plates.
The American Heart Association has created a program called the Heart-Check Food list. When you’re in grocery stores and even some restaurants, you’ll see a check mark that lets you know that the food you’re looking at is heart-healthy. USDA My plate is also a great tool that shows you what balance you should have between fresh fruit and unprocessed foods. I also want to mention that many people believe that heart healthy eating is boring food. But you might be surprised how many different types of food are actually good for you, if you’re willing to try them.
I know you’re supposed to have lots of color on your plate and frozen veggies are a convenient way to do that. Some people think, If it’s frozen, it’s not good for youbut that’s not necessarily the case, is it?
Yes, that is not necessarily the case at all. Sometimes people think food has to come straight from the farm to their table, and that’s the only way to be fresh. But if you add fruits and vegetables to your diet, these can be fresh from the garden. Where be frozen, canned or dried. Adding more color to your meals and snacks is definitely possible and not everything has to come out of the produce section. So that’s a good thing to keep in mind, and it makes life easier, especially if your busy life doesn’t allow you to get food straight from the farm.
Let’s talk about alcohol: what role does it play in heart disease?
So it’s an interesting story: on the one hand, some studies show that moderate consumption of red wine has health benefits and doesn’t really cause or worsen heart disease.
But the real concern with alcohol is excessive alcohol consumption over time, which can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. The American Heart Association and other regulatory bodies tend to recommend that women drink less than one alcoholic drink per day, around 12 ounces of beer and four ounces of wine. I’m not here to say you should never drink alcohol, but anything above those numbers probably isn’t good for you.