Healthy tips offered for hearts and diet

The Healthy Woman Ladies Night Out program on Feb. 28 focused on heart health and healthy eating. Leading off, Dr. Aimee Warren from the Kairin Clinic told how to “Give your ticker a tune up.” She said women get “overlooked” when it comes to heart disease, so she explained the many forms it takes, the causes, the symptoms, the risks, and what can be done to avoid them.

Heart disease is a broad term for the changes to the heart caused by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, inactivity, and excessive use of alcohol and caffeine. Coronary heart disease affected 17.6 million Americans in 2010 and caused one-third of the deaths of people over 35

years of age.

Warren went over the different parts of the heart that can develop problems, including the arteries (buildup of fatty plaques); the heart muscle (can become enlarged, thickened or stiffened); four valves, the lining and the surrounding sac (infections).

Other risk factors for developing coronary heart disease are age (body parts wear out), family history, sex (men are at greater risk), smoking (nicotine constricts blood vessels), carbon monoxide exposure, high stress and diabetes. Women are at higher risk for heart problems after menopause when they lose the protective effect of estrogen.

To give one’s “ticker a tune up,” Warren recommended adopting a healthy diet including five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, foods with a low glycemic index, monounsaturated fats and Omega – 3 from fish, plant sources or supplements. She said the ladies should “count fiber, not calories,” (25 grams a day) to lose weight.

To keep blood pressure under control, Warren advised the women to get regular exercise including 20 minutes of moderate exercise daily and 25 minutes of vigorous exercise three days a week, but start slowly. Those who smoke should quit, and everyone should reduce their sodium intake and limit alcohol consumption. She also said they should get their cholesterol and blood pressure checked so they know if they have a problem.

Because diabetes is a high risk factor for heart disease, people with diabetes should keep it in control with diet, exercise and medications and everyone should be aware of the symptoms. She listed the signs of diabetes as always feeling tired, frequent urination, sudden weight loss, always being hungry, blurry vision, always thirsty, having wounds that won’t heal, sexual problems, numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, and frequent vaginal infections.

Another way to reduce the risk of heart disease is to take aspirin, but it can increase one’s risk of bleeding so it is important to ask one’s doctor about it before taking aspirin every day. Women have different symptoms than men when they are experiencing a heart attack. Those symptoms can include a pain in the neck, acid reflux, heart palpitations and heaviness in the chest.

Warren said that overall, the more modifications one makes in their life the better off they will be. To help with those changes, Jenni Mazzilli, a Pampered Chef consultant, gave tips for healthy eating. She started by demonstrating an easy way to cut a whole pineapple – the healthiest way to buy pineapple.

As she cut off both ends, she said, “If you can pull the fronds off, it is ripe.” She added that if the top is dry, it is overripe and that pineapples ripened from the bottom up. So, if a pineapple is not ripe, just turn it upside down to ripen it. Mazzilli cut the pineapple into chunks for the beginnings of a salsa.

She then added pieces of red and yellow bell peppers which she said cause less indigestion than the green peppers that are red peppers picked early. Next, she cut up a ripe mango. The best way to find a ripe mango, Mazzilli said, is to look for one that is red-orange and yellow, not green, and still has its belly button attached.

After adding fresh-squeezed lime juice to the bowl, she recommended putting the rind in a bowl of water and microwaving it to clean the microwave and to refresh the whole kitchen. She also gave some good tips on onions as she cut one up; round onions have a stronger onion flavor while onions that are flat like a donut have a sweeter taste. She also advised that if one is not going to use the whole onion, “keep the root on and only use the top half,” then wrap the bottom half for storage in the refrigerator.

Mazzilli added seasoning to the colorful salsa which makes an attractive as well as healthy topping for fish, chicken or tacos; “We eat with our eyes as well as our tummies,” she said. Her last healthy tip was to sauté garlic without oil to add flavor and crunch to salads without using croutons. Garlic fixed this way is better than using garlic salt and contains no calories. The salsa was then served with tortillas chips to anyone who wanted to try it.

This Healthy Woman program was held at Fallbrook Library and was hosted by Regency Fallbrook which provided a meal for the 200 ladies who attended. For more information, call (760) 731-8143 or visit www.fallbrookhospital.com. Free membership sign-up is available through the website.

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