Menopause increases your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in women over 40 years of age. More than 400,000 American women die of heart disease each year. Menopause makes your blood clot more easily, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Menopause causes increases in blood cholesterol levels. Menopause also causes the walls of your blood vessels to change, leaving you more susceptible to arterial plaque and blood clots.
Here are some ways you can eat healthy to reduce your risk of heart disease post-menopause:
Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Research has shown that a diet high in soluble fiber, which is the kind of fiber found in fruits and vegetables, not only lowers levels of “bad” LDL blood cholesterol but also helps keep blood sugar levels in check. The vitamins found in fruits and vegetables also help to keep your heart healthy. Avoid using high fat sauces and dressings on your vegetables and fruits; increasing the fruits and vegetables in your diet will help you to avoid high fat snacks. Try eating some of these foods to increase your cardiovascular health:
Fruits and vegetables can be eaten as snacks or as the main course of a meal. Try eating more vegetable and fruit based meals and eat less meat, cheese and dairy. Avoid fruits and vegetables canned or frozen in heavy syrup or salty liquid. Avoid fried fruits and vegetables as well; try salads, stir frys and sandwiches instead.
Eat Lean Meat, Fish and Poultry
Following a heart healthy diet means cutting out excess fat, and you can do this by eating lean meat, fish and poulty. Grill or bake your meat, fish or poultry rather than frying. Avoid the following when preparing your meat, fish and poultry:
- Creamy sauces
- Non-dairy creamer
- Hydrogenated margarine or vegetable shortening
- Coconut oil
- Palm oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Cottonseed oil
Instead, use olive or canola oil or trans fat free margarine.
Avoid Unhealthy Fats
Trans fats and saturated fats increase your risk of arterial plaque and heart disease. Saturated fats should account for less than seven percent of your daily calories; trans fats should account for less than one percent of your daily calories, and you should be eating no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Avoid solid fats, like butter, margarine, lard or shortening, when preparing food. Check food labels to be sure that they don’t contain trans fats, and avoid eating any food that contains “partially hydrogenated” ingredients.
Eat More Healthy Fats
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the so called “healthy fats,” increase your levels of “good” HDL blood cholesterol and can help prevent heart attack and stroke. These fats are found in nuts and seeds, as well as olive oil and canola oil. Omega-3 fish oil supplements are a good way to add healthy fats to your diet. But remember that all fats contain calories, and that obesity increases your risk of heart disease, so eat all fats in moderation.