by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting
This month as we celebrate women we acknowledge their strength, contribution and passion. Their dedication, loyalty and often selflessness place them, however, in a vulnerable position. By nature, women are nurturers often putting the needs of others before their own. This expectation can lead to strained relationships, increased stress, disregard of self-care, and negative impact on overall health. Heart disease remains the No. 1 leading cause of death among women, and stress is one of the main risk factors of heart disease. Stress causes many detrimental effects, including the ability to trigger physical changes in the body. One Of the consequences of stress is high blood pressure, which places additional strain on the heart muscle. Over time, this additional demand on the heart can lead to heart attacks, stroke and even death. When protecting the heart, lowering your blood pressure is vital and often one of the first lines of defense against future complications and debility. Here are tips to lower your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease:
- Adopt stress management techniques to your daily routine (breathing exercises, relaxation, support system, laughter, sleep, etc.).
- Maintain a healthy body weight — simply losing10 to 15 pounds can improve blood pressure.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Limit salt intake to no more than 1,500 mg sodium per day.*Use herbs, spices, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, etc. to flavor foods.
- Exercise to strengthen the heart muscle, which in turn can lower blood pressure.
- Find ways to cultivate happiness! A positive outlook in life better equips us to deal with daily stressors and supports our overall health, including our heart.